Appreciate the Moments



When college students return home for Thanksgiving Break, it can be an adjustment for the entire family. After a stressful semester of papers, midterms, impossible professors and added responsibilities of several sports and/ or clubs, a student may want to skip the holiday and spend that time to regain their sanity.

No matter how exhausted we may be, there is still a part of us that feels obligated to go home for Thanksgiving Break. Over the years, I have come across two types of college students. One, misses home and counts down the days until they can escape campus to go back home and see their family. The second avoids home at all costs, no matter how much their family may guilt them into making an exception for the holidays.  

While there are the students who simply cannot afford to go home, no matter how much they want to, there are others who either refuse to go home for the holiday or absolutely dread it.  As a person who looks forward to Thanksgiving and the excessive amount of food that waits for me at home every year, I never understood why so many students hated this holiday.

Through my years at the University of New Haven, I noticed a trend among my friend groups, so naturally I was compelled to ask, why?

The comments followed: “I love food, but hate Thanksgiving… I get bombarded with questions like, are you in a relationship? How is school going, are you doing well? What do you plan on doing after you graduate?”

Now that Fall Break is over, some students feel like they have fulfilled their “family quality time” quota. Going home for the holidays has lost its appeal and has become a mere inconvenience for many students who don’t want to be overwhelmed by the family drama that awaits them at home.

Having to deal with incessant questions from random family members you haven’t seen in years and nagging parents can be exhausting. As young adults, we hate being told what we can and cannot do.  College is a platform where we can develop our own opinions, dictate who we choose to associate with and lock ourselves in our room whenever we just need a mental day to check out of the world around us.

Many parents fail to understand that when their “child” comes home they are a completely different person, then when they departed for college. That newfound independence and “home,” doesn’t make us love our parents any less, it just means we value our independence and tend to make it known whenever we visit.

Trust me I get it! Family can be overbearing at times. With the constant reminder of your lack of love life and preparation for the future, which adds to the stress and anxiety the college experience thus far, going home for Thanksgiving may be the last thing on your to-do-ist.  I‘ve had my fair share of judgmental comments and awkward conversations with family members which arguably would stop anyone from wanting to go home for the holidays.

A part of me understands these arguments, but I can’t fully comprehend them. After I traveled abroad first semester freshman year at the age of 17, I pride myself on being a fearless and independent woman.

Although I missed my family dearly when I came back to the U.S., I could not stand being home for the short break before the spring semester. The transition from traveling throughout Europe for four months, free from parental restrictions, disapproval and surveillance to having my mother question every move I made, almost drove me to the brink of insanity.

It wasn’t until the following year, where I appreciated my mother for her constant need to check up on me. I felt misguided and overwhelmed by being on campus and having to make new friends that I started to second guess my purpose at the University. I never felt so thankful for Thanksgiving break and dinner with my family.

While I realize not everyone has the best relationship with their family, sometimes as college students take our families efforts for granted.

Let’s look at this dilemma from our parent’s perspective. A University of Michigan study, found that more than 60 percent of young adults between the ages of 19 and 22, attending college receive some form of financial help from mom and/ or dad. While I can’t speak for everyone’s parents, if you are represented in this demographic then please know that your parents probably don’t mean to be a nuisance.

Sometimes parents don’t realize how overbearing they can be. Parents tend to feel a sense of disconnect from their child when they are no longer under their roof and supervision. After spending 18 plus years protecting their child from the dangers of the outside world to then suddenly lose that sense of control over their child’s well-being, is no easy concept to grasp. It’s difficult for any loved one or guardian that you have spent your entire life with to just suddenly disconnect and cut all ties with that individual.

It’s hard for parents, in the same regard to fully accept that their child is fully capable of making their own decisions. College is a scary and exciting experience for both the child and parent, but if boundaries are set early on, then a healthy form of communication can aid the relationship, despite the distance.

Try your best to be open and honest about how you what relationship you want with your parents. Don’t just ignore their calls and invites to family events/outings. Enjoy the occasional long conversation with your parents or family members.  If your family is investing money into your education, tell them how much you appreciate the sacrifices they are making for you and realize that not everyone is as fortunate to have parents willing to do that for their child.

The constant phone calls and endless questions may be annoying, but parents only get to experience the campus tour and occasional event on campus. Tell them how involved you are on campus and how much their investment is worthwhile. Seeing how happy you are at the university and hearing about your college experiences reassures them that their money is not going to waste.

As a graduating senior, I now realize that the constant support and occasional nagging from my mom and grandparents to stay focused, aided my growth as an intellectual. Growing up in the Bronx and raised by a single mother, who worked three jobs as an educator to support my family, made me appreciate the opportunities I was given. It was the pressures to succeed, from my family that helped me understand why these small moments are what matter to them the most.  Thanksgiving is more than just a holiday where we stuff our faces with food and regret the 10 pounds we’re bound to gain by staring at an apple pie.

Take the trip home, share your college experience with your family and make the most of the moments you’re given.