By Erika Urivez
It’s that time of the year again when members of the family you may not have seen for months come together around the table for a Thanksgiving dinner full of warm comfort food and even better, heated conversations.
As the college students of the family, we seem to be the center of attention for a lot of the uncles and aunts who haven’t seen us in a while. They greet us with hugs and the famous one-liner, “It’s been so long!,” before catching up with questions about what’s going on in our lives. They may comment on our height, our major in school, goals for the upcoming future, our relationship status (or lack thereof), and maybe even our clothes.
These aren’t always the subjects our generation enjoys talking about ever, let alone when we’re given a break away from the stress itself. Throughout the semester, our schedules get filled, the stress meter exceeds the limit and the holidays are a time to escape from all of it for a few days at least. Our relatives don’t always see it that way though and may instead see it as a reunion of sorts, with every topic up for grabs.
For Micaela Cornelison, a Grand Rapids freshman, she’d prefer if her schooling was kept off the plate of discussions.
“I’m on break,” Cornelison said. “I mean school is the last thing I want to talk about.”
Aside from us, there’s even more that gets discussed as we scarf down the food in an attempt to avoid the conversation. As someone who goes for the mashed potatoes and ham, the end of the world isn’t something I’m fond of chatting about, but too often is on the table for discussion. Whether it be about the apocalypse, natural disasters or how the world is coming to an end in general, I’d prefer if it wasn’t debated about during the holidays. Especially at a time when the only stress we’re supposed to be having is the fear of burning the house down while deep frying the turkey or on a more lighthearted note, who is going to sit where.
However, for some like Gabi Salazar, 18, of Grand Rapids, the topics aren’t quite as extreme, but still aren’t any easier.
“Political stuff,” Salazar said. “You know you have that family where it’s like you relatively believe in the same thing, but sometimes… it’s rough.”
Politics aren’t always easy to talk about with family, particularly because the fear of offending relatives and making the rest of the dinner awkward since you’re not able to leave the house. That would be even more offensive and rude. However, a lot of these topics can’t be easily avoided because a lot of what we’re afraid or hesitant to talk about is what’s going on in the world. There’s a variety of them recently including the California wildfires that may have a link to global warming and even the recent shooting in Thousand Oaks, California which leads to the heated topic of gun control. While it may be easier to brush them aside, they do need to be talked about… just not during a time when we’re briefly trying to clear our minds of the bad and reflect on all that we’re thankful for.
In that sense, I can see why some people may want to discuss the heavier topics. They may be thankful that their neighborhood wasn’t engulfed in flames and want to speak about the importance of climate control. They may also want to keep those affected from the shooting in mind and be empathetic towards the families who are without their loved ones that seek some kind of change. It leaves a hollow feeling in my chest thinking about it and there definitely is a time and place for it all to be discussed. However, the only hollow feeling I would like to attend to during Thanksgiving is the one in my stomach, aching for food.
This Thanksgiving, save the heated debates and unwanted questions for another time when we’re more prepared with clever answers to bring rather than a platter of pumpkin pie.