One of the definitions for Thanksgiving on dictionary.com is “a public celebration in acknowledgement of divine favor or kindness”. Generally, we think of Thanksgiving as a holiday where we give thanks for what we are grateful for in our lives.
Although Thanksgiving is typically thought of as an American holiday, many other countries around the world hold similar days of thanks as they celebrate their nation’s independence, freedom and accomplishments. Elizabethtown College celebrates diversity, so the goal of celebrating Thanksgiving here is to unite all of us, students, faculty and staff, as a community.
Of course, the major event we all recognize at Etown happens to be the Thanksgiving Dinner. This is a time when we buy tickets for dinner, making us feel like we are making reservations at a restaurant. We see the Blue Bean Café congested with students, dressed up in nice clothes and posing for pictures. We celebrate Thanksgiving with our Etown family.
International student Eduard Capdevila, from Barcelona, is experiencing his first Thanksgiving in the States. When asked about his expectations for this holiday, he said, “I was expecting a big turkey in the middle of the table, with our Etown family gathered together. I pictured it being on a cold day, maybe with snow on the ground, just like I’ve seen in the movies.”
“Even though we don’t necessarily celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s always a fun time with good food. I think the College does a good job each year of bringing everybody together, especially with the tree lighting ceremony right after,” said junior Jeroen Hooijboer, a native of the Netherlands. “I’m thankful this year for my beautiful American friends.”
“I was looking forward to Thanksgiving Dinner as an opportunity to connect with Etown students, especially as it is my first Thanksgiving at Etown. It was a nice setting to get to know students more informally,” President Carl Strikwerda said. The president of Etown continued the tradition by serving students their dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 16 with other faculty and staff members of the College.
“I wanted to make a statement by being present at Thanksgiving Dinner,” Strikwerda added. “Thanksgiving at Elizabethtown is about bringing our college community together.”
The Thanksgiving festivities are a memorable part of the Etown experience, and students recognize it as a highlight of November.
“I’m thankful to be able to spend time with my family and friends, especially with this being my last Thanksgiving at Etown. I wanted to be able to enjoy it with the people I’ve met here,” senior Taylor Wambaugh said. She added, “It’s always an excuse to dress up and hang out with my friends.”
Junior Al Gorton said, “I like that the faculty take part in serving the students the meal. It provides an interaction between the faculty and students, which definitely brings us closer as a community. Last year, Mr. Hoover served me and my friends, and it was cool to find out the Hoover business building was actually named after him.”
“It was a great time to experience good food with good people,” junior Ryan Mitchell added. “I’m thankful for our country and the families we have.”
It’s always amazing to see how faculty, staff and contributors to the college take part in the traditional dinner, continuing to give back to Etown, all in good spirits.
Immediately following Thanksgiving Dinner, the holiday tree lighting is traditionally held. This year, however, the tree lighting will be postponed until Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. due to inclement weather. Also of note is the change in the ceremony’s location; the tree lighting will now take place in the Dell near the gazebo.
“The old tree was not doing so well,” Strikwerda explained. According to Strikwerda, the new location for the tree lighting ceremony is a dynamic place. The Dell is where we celebrate convocation in the beginning of the year, where most students hope to walk at graduation (as opposed to inside), and where, earlier this semester, Strikwerda celebrated his inauguration. The Dell is a place that is used to celebrate and commemorate special events on campus as a community.
Despite these changes, the tree lighting will still be an interactive community experience. Holiday stories will be shared by various members of the College community, and Strikwerda will also read a children’s Christmas story to the younger attendees.
The theme of this year’s ceremony is “Celebrating Christmas around the World,” which fits well with Etown’s emphasis on diversity and coming together as a community. The ceremony marks the transition into the winter holiday season, and it is meant to be an inclusive event which promotes goodwill within the campus community.