Harvesting Thanksgiving Spirit on the Farm

Dec. 2, 2009, 12:01 a.m.

For most, Thanksgiving means traveling home and spending time with family. But for hundreds of students, this year it meant staying right here on campus.

Their reasons are many. For some, home is too far; others had athletic events. Some just wanted to stick around and get work done. Yet all had the opportunity to celebrate together in a casual setting or organized event.

As one might expect, the ambiance on campus over Thanksgiving is quiet. Most buildings are closed, and the streets are devoid of cars and students.

“There are not that many people,” said Rajendra Kumar ’10. “When I stayed, it was quiet. [There was] like one cafeteria open in Stern and one in Lagunita. It was empty.”

But many students found ways to embrace their peaceful dorms and still have a good time. Some used their empty dorm rooms for get-togethers and parties. Those who found the scene to be too quiet ventured off campus. Groups of students took road trips to visit friends and explore Palo Alto and the greater Bay Area.

“I love having a social life–it’s where I get my energy from,” Kumar said. “All my friends were like, ‘Let’s do something, guys.’ We went to Santa Cruz and took a camping trip.”

On Thanksgiving Day, a holiday often celebrated in part around the dinner table, students on campus had various options. Some students went to local restaurants for an unconventional Thanksgiving meal. In the past, others have attempted to make dinner in the dorm kitchen.

“We invite students to make dinner if they wish,” said Twain Resident Fellow (RF) Arcadio Morales. “The first time we hosted Thanksgiving, the students agreed they were going to make pumpkin pies. They had seen it done before, but had never done it themselves. They never quite finished and ended up running to Safeway.”

Students staying on campus this year had a number of opportunities to enjoy traditional Thanksgiving food at University events. The Bechtel International Center hosted a Thanksgiving dessert night Wednesday at 7 p.m., where all students–both international and American–were invited to mingle and enjoy pumpkin pie.

Graduate students and their families were invited to attend a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and held at the Graduate Community Center. Traditional Thanksgiving turkey and vegetarian options were offered for free.

“This is the 12th year that the GSC has hosted this event,” said GSC Co-Chair Nanna Notthoff. “We are very grateful that the President’s Office is sponsoring [it], with some supplemental funds from GSC.”

Finally, students who hoped to celebrate Thanksgiving in a home-like environment were able to share dinner with a local Stanford family through the Stanford Parents’ Club.

Despite the diminished number of students and the lacking comforts of home, students who remain on campus for Thanksgiving can beat the boredom and enjoy the week by staying active, creative and involved.

“It comes down to what kind of person you are–,” Kumar said, “whether you like excitement or you like calmness for a week.”

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