The students sat down in their usual half circle in the classroom, leaving room for their professor to sit at the table in the front. There were only six of them, which certainly made the students feel as though they were closer to each other personally, than those they have met in other classes during their undergrad years. Some how the same seating arrangement that they had experienced in preschool came back around as a trend when they become graduate students.
One of the students, who wore her long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail, looked up from the papers laid out on the desk in front of her as I walked into the room. “Hey, so how was your Thanksgiving?”
“It was great. I visited family at my uncle’s house in San Diego and managed to visit more family and friends back home in Bakersfield.”
“Oh. Bakersfield.” She laughed about my story involving a closed bar. “Well at least you and your friends were able to find another bar that was open during the holidays so you could catch up.”
As the students trickled in one by one each told their holiday story. “My Thanksgiving was functional,” One of the older students said to the group who was now waiting on the professor to walk in.
The blonde student looked puzzled. “What do you mean functional?”
“Well, I set the bar low for things like that so that I won’t get disappointed.”
Another one of the younger male students interjected, “That’s why he brags about his grades.”
The older student let out a little chuckle. “It wasn’t dysfunctional, and that’s what you hope for right?”
The group of students stumbled onto the discussion of family gatherings gone wrong.
“I usually just try and slide out the back door if things are getting heated,” one of the younger male students said. “Politics and religion should never be discussed at the dinner table.”
All of the extreme stories of awkward and heated conversations had made me laugh. However, I thought about my own family and how I was thankful to sit down at a table with amazing people who didn’t chuck things at each other when the conversation took a turn.
All the stories reminded me that nobody’s family is perfect, including my own, but that we continue gathering together for things like Thanksgiving anyway out of love for one another.