Turkey and stuffing, thanks for nothing

by Bei Hu

Josh Evans, a fourth-year University math major, draped himself over a sofa in a Pioneer Hall lounge. It was the day after Thanksgiving, and the only activity in the room was the ice hockey game on the big-screen TV that Evans was watching with a friend.
“[I’m] getting paid for trying to keep five people quiet,” said Evans with a good-natured laugh, referring to his job as a night manager at Frontier Hall. “Since everybody else decided to go home, I get a whole lot of easy overtime.”
Many University students headed home for the long Thanksgiving weekend. But Evans, for the second year in a row, kept company with the few people who, for one reason or another, opted to stay on campus for the holiday.
The Thanksgiving scene dawned on campus Wednesday afternoon. Even coffee shops closed early that night and remained closed Thursday.
Frontier Hall, which Evans said usually houses about 400 freshmen, was almost empty Thanksgiving Day. Fewer than 20 people, including staff members, stayed in the residence hall. Even food services had closed Wednesday at 6 p.m., and would not reopen until Sunday night.
Evans seemed to still be recovering from two 10-hour shifts he had previously worked. The Mankato native saw his parents briefly on Thursday at a family Thanksgiving gathering at his uncle’s house in Minnetonka. But, he said, “I was busy sleeping most of yesterday.”
Although staying on campus allowed him to finish some studying, Evans said, “If I didn’t have any financial reason to stay here, I would probably go home.”
Unlike Evans, many other students who spent Thanksgiving on campus have families that live in different parts of the country. For a variety of reasons, these students could not join the estimated 31.8 million people who traveled 100 miles or more during the weekend.
Some students who were not able to make it home for dinner instead had get-togethers with relatives who live near the Twin Cities.
Michael Mountford, an Institute of Technology senior from Washington, D.C., had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with more than 20 family members in his uncle’s Minneapolis home.
“I think it’s important to spend it with your family,” he said. “It’s better than having good food.”
Mountford said he has always tried to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, even though it might not consist of immediate relations.
“You should spend it with your family, keep in touch with them on a happy occasion like this, not just funerals,” Mountford added.
College of Liberal Arts junior Jeremy McAdams heated turkey with all the trimmings Friday night at Espresso Royale Caffe, a Dinkytown coffee shop. The meal was courtesy of his friend, who knew that McAdams had only eaten yogurt on Thanksgiving.
McAdams’s parents live in Kansas City and Texas. “I don’t often get to either of the places actually,” he said.
With papers and other class projects due, McAdams declined his sister’s invitation to travel up north. On Thanksgiving Day, he found himself at his kitchen table, working on a paper for class.
“Everything was closed around here,” he said.
Not every student with family that lives out of state had a solitary Thanksgiving. Josh Brosz, a psychology major from South Dakota, shuttled between friends and relatives’ houses with his brother, another University student, and his mother, who was visiting from Sioux Falls.
Brosz called his Thanksgiving meal his favorite dinner of the year.
“We were always going home for Thanksgiving to Sioux Falls,” he said. “That’s the first time I’ve had a Thanksgiving like that.”
Some students used the long weekend as a time to refresh themselves before the onset of the finals week.
Sarah Hohenthaner, a CLA student from South Dakota, spent Thanksgiving cleaning her room and watching television. She had pizza for Thanksgiving dinner with some friends at Old Chicago Restaurant. “I’d got nothing better to do,” she said. “But it was relaxing. I enjoyed myself.”
With exams pending and papers due, some local students even cut short their family visits to catch up on course work. Wilson Library, which opened Friday, was packed with students getting ready for finals.
Fay Anagnostopoulou, an architecture major from Greece, said it was not much different from any other weekend. “Just very long,” she said.