Making the most of Thanksgiving away from home

By Gabi DiPaulo | November 24, 2019 10:11pm

Feeling lonely as you see your friends off for Thanksgiving break? Take some tips from The Beacon on how to spend the holiday away from home. Photo illustration by Annika Gordon.

Ahh, Thanksgiving. The holiday of gorging on your first home-cooked meals in a while after months of campus food and grilled cheeses; catching up with family after living miles apart; and taking at least a few days to enjoy the fall weather that you’ve been too busy to appreciate because you’ve been burying yourself in the library. For some, Thanksgiving break signals the onset of their favorite holiday. For others, it might signal expensive plane tickets, heated political debates around the turkey, and interactions that you just don’t want to have. 

As Thanksgiving break approaches next week, a population of UP students will opt out of returning home. Maybe it’s the soaring costs of plane tickets to return home for a meager four days, or maybe you just want to try your own Thanksgiving this year. 

Either way, your first Thanksgiving away from home is … scary. Suddenly, everywhere you look you see people reuniting with their families, walking their dogs, or kicking back in their family living room while an elaborate feast is prepared in the kitchen. Suddenly, your dorm or house in Portland feels like a ghost town. 

Fear not. Thanksgiving can happen in all shapes and sizes. If you have friends who are also spending the break in PDX, round them up for your own get-together. If traditional Thanksgiving food isn’t sparking your fancy, create your own menu. Tacos? Sounds amazing. A full-spread breakfast for dinner? Delicious! Just one huge pot of mac and cheese, extra cheese? Knock yourself out. 

All by yourself? Even better. Vent creative energy by going all “Home Alone” on your roommates or housemates and booby-trapping the house. And what better day to practice some “sELf cArE”? Go on a scenic walk through downtown Portland, or step it up a notch and participate in the downtown Portland Turkey Trot, a 5k that welcomes festive costumes. If physical activity is the last thing you want on this fine Thursday, I’m with you. 

Sit down for The Talk with your couch; you’re committed, you love it, and you want to stay together as long as possible. Build a love nest for one complete with tailored Thanksgiving content. I suggest the Thanksgiving episodes of “New Girl,” “The Office,” “Master of None,” “Friends” and “Gossip Girl” in particular. Maybe enjoy some Postmates from some delicious Portland restaurants that have already announced they’ll be open on Thanksgiving. (Just remember to tip your driver nicely for delivering you food on a holiday!) 

In all seriousness, it’s fine to not have the All-American family Thanksgiving you see in the media. Not to go all boomer on you, but the age of social media and technology has made it impossible to escape perceptions of what your life should look like. If you think it’s best, prioritize your own mental health and put your phone away for a few hours. Spend some time with yourself. 

And at the end of the day, remember: Thanksgiving as a holiday celebrates the genocide and exploitation of native peoples at the hands of white colonizers. Don’t feel bad for sitting this one out. 

Gabi DiPaulo is the Living editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at