This Thanksgiving, I Was Truly Thankful for Family

This Thanksgiving, I Was Truly Thankful for Family

How college, independence, and a different mindset made me truly celebrate the holiday

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This past Thanksgiving holiday, I had the opportunity to return home to Minnesota and spend the break with my family. Having spent the Thanksgiving break at home every year I can remember, I had become accustomed to waving it off as a ho-hum five-day weekend from school. However, attending Emory this fall stirred things up. I arrived in the middle of August and didn't return home until this past Thanksgiving. That period of three months where I was on my own, just me looking out for myself, changed my mindset significantly.

First, and most surprising to me, I truly began to think of Emory as home. Walking up my garage stairs into my house for the first time felt surreal as if I were in a dream, where months had passed by but seemingly no time had passed by at all. Something didn't feel right.

More importantly, my experience made me realize how lucky I was to be returning home. Over those three months, I had begun to miss my family significantly. While not necessarily homesickness, I began to truly appreciate what I had left behind. Separation from loved ones is a moving experience. It's both an intoxicating feeling of freedom yet can be a nervous attack. And while I enjoyed my fall at Emory immensely, I missed the order and familiarity I had enjoyed back home.

One of my first ideas, after I arrived, was to try some true separation from my parents, to gauge my "independence". Fewer phone calls from Mom were answered and more snapchats from my brother went unopened. And honestly, the plan backfired. Turning away the people I depended on the most, even just as some kind of weird experiment, left me more desperate to reach out for communication, jokes, and even validation.

When I finally allowed myself to relent, I had some great moments connecting with my family. Somehow, someway, I even had text conversations with my brother, something that rarely happened before I left.

When I returned home for Thanksgiving, I was able to finally get the full experience. I enjoyed the time off by sleeping, catching up on the video games I had missed out on, going on some runs for the first time in a while, and not opening up my backpack for the whole break. But most important to me was connecting with my family in ways I hadn't for months. Sitting at the table, looking at the people surrounding me made me realize how lucky I was to have people who cared about me enough to send me to Emory, checking up on me and encouraging me throughout.

But not only was it my biological family; I met a whole new family this past fall. The cross country team has been nothing but a joy to take part in, and I owe that to my extended family of runners. They have shaped my perception of college and life drastically for the better, and they have helped me realize the value of family.

If it takes moving a thousand miles away to realize how valuable family is, then maybe there was something I was missing. But regardless, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have had the realization of how much my well-being depends on those people. And thankfully I did, because if there was something extra special about this Thanksgiving, it was being (truly) thankful for family.

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To The Grandmothers Who Made Us The Women We Are Today

Sincerely, the loving granddaughters.
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The relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter is something so uniquely special and something to be treasured forever.

Your grandma loves you like you are her own daughter and adores you no matter what. She is the first person you run to when you have a problem with your parents and she never fails to grace you with the most comforting advice.

She may be guilty of spoiling you rotten but still makes sure to stress the importance of being thankful and kind.

Your grandma has most likely lived through every obstacle that you are experiencing now as a young adult and always knows just exactly what to say.

She grew up in another generation where things were probably much harder for young women than they are today.

She is a walking example of perseverance, strength, and grace who you aim to be like someday.

Your grandma teaches you the lessons she had to learn the hard way because she does not want you to make the same mistakes she did when she was growing up.

Her hugs never fail to warm your heart, her smile never fails to make you smile, and her laugh never fails to brighten your day.

She inspires you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

You only hope that one day you can be the mother and grandmother she was to you.

A piece of girl’s heart will forever belong to her grandma that no one could ever replace.

She is the matriarch of your family and is the glue that holds you all together.

Grandmothers play such an important role in helping their granddaughters to grow into strong, intelligent, kind women.

She teaches you how to love and how to forgive.

Without the unconditional love of your grandma, you would not be the woman you are today.

To all of the grandmothers out there, thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

the loving granddaughters

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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I'm The College Girl Who Is Old Enough To Know She Doesn't Want Kids, Please Respect That

Yes, I am a real woman, and yes, I have a heart.

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"I don't think I'm going to have kids." This was the sentence that sent my family into a frenzy. But you love kids, your so good with them, don't you think that's a bit selfish? Was the first of the remarks, followed by: you don't know what your missing, is your boyfriend okay with it, you're robbing the world of great kids, you'll never be happy, you'll change your mind; each came hurtling at me, one after the next. But me not wanting kids is something that I've given a lot of thought to, for the past decade, so am I really just "saying it for a reaction"?

"But you love kids, your so good with them, don't you think that's a bit selfish?" Yes. I do love kids. I think children are amazing. But that is the thing. I'm not being selfish. While it may be a bit selfish of me to not want to have to sew my body back up while sitting in an ice bath for a month afterward. Is it really so selfish to not want to raise a child in this messed up world? There is a school shooting almost every week in this country. Also, there's this thing called "rape culture" and it permeates every aspect of our society. Many of the children of today will likely be its victims or perpetrators in the not-so-distant future.

"You don't know what you're missing." According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs $241,080 for a middle-income family to raise a kid to 18 years of age — and that's before you toss in college, grad school, helping them get on their feet after graduation, bailing them out of jail after a wild weekend in Cabo, and all the rest of the unexpected expenses that come along with being a parent. I know what I am missing out on: temper tantrums and more college loans.

"Is your boyfriend okay with it?" This one always puzzles me. I'm not saying that we haven't talked about it. Of course he knows. But I am confused by the idea that if he wanted kids, I would change my mind to appease him. I was always taught that I am the sovereign of my own body. But then my aunt tells me that I have to give the decision of whether or not pushing a melon out of my uterus is best for me to any person I plan on dating?

"You're robbing the world of great kids." I'm actually not robbing the world of anything. I'm thinking about how having kids would impact the environment, over-consumption, over-population, and whether it would be fair to bring a child into this world. By not having kids, I'm allowing for the world to have one less person slowly ripping it apart. Mother Jones stated that one American child produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as 106 kids in Haiti. So, if you're concerned about bringing your the world's carbon footprint down, you could just skip having a kid.

"You'll never be happy." I fervently disagree with that statement. An international 2014 Gallup study found that overall, people with children had a "lower life evaluation," meaning they feel less happy with their lives in general. I know so many older women who do not have children and are incredibly happy. They felt fulfilled by other things; careers, spouses, volunteering, hobbies, pets, literally anything else. I understand that many people feel that they need children in order to feel happy, but some of us are not in the majority. But more women are child-free in the U.S. now that at any other time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Almost half, 47.6 percent, of women between the ages of 15 and 44 did not have children in 2014. So how small is the minority I'm in?

"You'll change your mind." And I know that. A lot of people do. My dad didn't want kids, and yet here I am. Some people change their minds, but some people don't. If my mind changes I'm okay with that, but don't TELL me that my mind will definitely change. It hasn't changed for the past 10 years and it doesn't look like it will anytime soon.

As a young woman in an age that tells me I can be anything, I can do anything, that I am in charge of my own destiny; I am often surprised by the number of people who tell me what to think and how I should be living my life. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I'm past the age of someone trying to shape mine. If you want a moldable mind, go have your own child Susan.

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