Thanksgiving Across the Sea
Possibly one of the hardest days to cope with while away from home during fall term is Thanksgiving. It is not a holiday in Britain, but yet every American student knows it and is used to spending it at home with family and friends. For that reason, St. Catherine’s tries to make it special for all their Visiting Students as well as the American grad students and fellows. We started off the evening with drinks in the Senior Common Room, then entered hall from the door where the Master and dean normally enter from and were greeted with a couple tables specially set just for us with special napkins, place settings, and table decorations. Already feeling special, this made it even better. We sat down, marveling at the decorations, and many a person commenting on the cornbread platter that was positioned every so often down the table—there is nothing like authentic Thanksgiving food to make it even more like Thanksgiving.
The food was excellent. It seemed like the cooks really outdid themselves for this special event. All students who ate in hall that night were treated to the American Thanksgiving food, but you could tell that the tables housing the Americans were the ones having the most fun. We were laughing, talking, savoring, and enjoying ourselves as we would have if we were home with our family, for the truth is that we had become somewhat of a family, a home away from home family, and we were going to celebrate this night in style, whether the British recognized it as a holiday or not. Granted, it is less like a holiday when you have work looming over your head (for I did have an essay due the next morning that I still needed to finish), but the ability to forget about it over the course of a couple of hours while we enjoyed good food and company was the best thing I could have asked for.
What did we eat? Well, the chiefs had an excellent menu containing all the traditional food (even if slightly different than what you would find in the states) prepared for us. We started off with Pupkin and Sweetcorn Soup with the corn bread, then continues on to the main course, which consisted of Roast Turkey with Pear and Chesnut Stuffing, Bacon, Chipolata and Sherry Gravy. Finally, dessert was a scrumptious Pecan and Cranberry Tart, with Coffee or Tea and Mint Chocolates for afters. Overall, it was amazing. In fact, you could see every American student savoring the food, for we were still on our main course when most of the British students were beginning to depart after finishing their dessert. It was truly a Thanksgiving to remember, with special friends in Oxford. I don’t think I’ll ever have another one like it, for the English manage to do Thanksgiving quite well, even if they don’t celebrate the holiday themselves.