Students’ co-op shares a second, third, fifth Thanksgiving

On Saturday, the cooperative’s residents gathered friends and house alumni for a holiday potluck celebration.

Barry Lytton

While many University of Minnesota students flocked home to eat turkey over the long weekend, 15 people gathered Saturday evening at the Students’ Co-op for another Thanksgiving feast.

In the co-op’s basement, the group celebrated the American tradition with a buffet of unconventional holiday foods that included pancakes, noodles and hummus. And while duck replaced the customary turkey, the residents also incorporated Thanksgiving standbys like stuffing, corn and lefse.

At the end of the meal, each attendee cleaned his or her own dish.

For the group of cooperative residents who equally own their University Avenue Southeast home, bringing together alumni and friends for a celebration centered on sharing was inherent to the house’s culture.

“It fulfills a family gathering role,” said Nels Shafer, a biology, society, and environment senior and fifth-year co-op resident.

Attendees of the holiday event circled a large wooden table on Saturday, seated in everything from rolling office chairs to bar stools.

A room away, the kitchen’s steel counter and its culinary spread sat waiting.

“It’s festive, but completely removed from commercialization,” said Shafer, who supplied hummus, pretzel chips and sampled pomegranate seeds.

Food aside, Schafer said he most enjoyed the night’s company.

“This is just one way for us to get together,” he said.

Zach Tauer, a 2011 University alumnus and current co-op resident, said he brought leftovers and cider to the potluck, while also cooking the pancakes for the rest of the crowd.

Though most of Saturday’s participants had already attended a Thanksgiving feast or two, many said the co-op’s version of the holiday was unique.

Co-op live-in Jon Terry said he had planned to make potatoes but realized they were about to expire.

Instead, Terry contributed thinly sliced grapefruit to the meal and set the fruit on a separate table next to margarita mix, hard cider and two six-packs of beer.

Between Thursday’s holiday, “Friends-giving” and other weekend celebrations, Terry said it was his fifth Thanksgiving gathering this year.

Though he has only lived in the co-op for the past few months, Terry said, he knew to anticipate the house’s annual meal.

Shafer said the event has been a 10-year tradition.

This weekend’s Thanksgiving potluck was smaller than in past years, Tauer said, which have typically drawn a crowd of 25 to 30 people celebrating the classic American holiday on campus.

Shafer said he hoped the night would end as many of the house’s eventsdo.

“It’s a typical co-op thing,” he said. “It might end in a music jam.”

Though it was the 10th iteration of a Thanksgiving feast, Saturday’s meal was not without its surprises.

“We have news,” one attendee exclaimed before the group dug in. “The vegan stuffing has bacon.”