Jaggar DeMarco: An alternative Thanksgiving to-do list

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday: You get to wear cozy sweaters and it isn’t considered gluttonous if you take a second – or even third – helping of dessert. And unlike most days of the year, when pumpkin spice latte-drinkers are the subject of ridicule, it’s never considered “basic” to indulge in pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day.

I could probably write a whole term paper about my obsession with Thanksgiving. But this year, I’ve dreaded the break: For all Thanksgiving enthusiasts who also happen to be college students, it’s unfortunate that the holiday falls just before the busiest weeks of the semester.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Jaggar DeMarco

I want to avoid getting bogged down in work and then entering the inevitable spiral of shame after I wind up not doing any of it. That’s why I’ve designed a to-do list to help all GW students make the most of their Thanksgiving – outside of schoolwork.

If we stick to this structure, it will help us take full advantage of the short but vital time off. After all, since GW doesn’t offer students a fall break, it’s up to us to make this one count.

Wednesday, Nov. 26
One of the classic traditions at most Thanksgiving dinners is to go around the table and declare what you’re thankful for that year. I don’t know about you, but this custom is met with mixed feelings at my house.

My aunt usually spews something emotional – and almost always cries. My grandmother spends 10 minutes listing her grandchildren’s banal accomplishments. My older brother mutters the obligatory, “I’m thankful for my family.”

While I know this tradition seems cumbersome and stilted, there is a value in it that shouldn’t be overlooked. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have something to be thankful for – namely, the fact that we’re all furthering our education, an opportunity that isn’t available to millions around the world.

I’m not saying that an education should be what you express gratitude for. But this year, spend Wednesday thinking of something meaningful that happened over the past 12 months and let your family know. A little introspection never hurt anyone.

Thursday, Nov. 27
It’s the big day – the reason you got three days off of school and a break from eating Whole Foods hot bar meals.

Today, I recommend you spend some time with a family member or friend you may usually avoid. It’s easy to retreat into your routine among the people you feel most comfortable with. But this year, sit next to someone new.

Everyone knows there’s at least one family member at every table who has a different political view from you. After an aggressive midterm election campaign season, try chatting with him or her – it doesn’t have to be as contentious as it is in D.C. Let’s be honest: Is there any wound that great mashed potatoes can’t mend?

Friday, Nov. 28
I know it’s Black Friday, but stay inside today. I promise, you can shop tomorrow.

We need to be honest with ourselves: After all of yesterday’s eating, we’ll likely need a day to recover. Use Friday to catch up on all those shows that you haven’t had a chance to watch this semester.

There’s some great television out there – and as members of the human race, you need to be able to have a conversation that isn’t about your latest course material or internship.

Over break, I’ll be watching the BBC series “Orphan Black.” Haven’t heard of it? That’s my point.

Or if that’s a little bit too outside the mainstream for you, try “How To Get Away with Murder” on ABC. Don’t watch this show if you need intellectual stimulation over break, but Shonda Rhimes’ writing won’t disappoint.

Saturday, Nov. 29
I hope that by now, your recovery from Thursday is complete and you’re ready to leave the house again. You may be disappointed that I made you miss the deals on Black Friday, but to be honest, they’re just selling you junk anyway, and the cheap prices are exaggerated.

Instead, spend your money at a local business on what has become known as “Small Business Saturday.” It can be a refreshing change from the soul-sucking consumerism that surrounds us this time of year. Your money will go further in a local store, and you’re sure to find a unique purchase that you won’t see everyone else showing off once you get back to campus.

It’s also a great alternative to the holiday shopping folks are doing at the mall. Your dad really doesn’t need that tie on sale from Macy’s – but he might actually appreciate the jazzy cufflinks from the corner store down the street.

Plus, if you overspend on one-of-a-kind items, chances are you won’t feel as guilty.

Sunday, Nov. 30
Joke’s on you – you’ve wasted your entire break!

Just kidding. You can thank me later for all the R&R you’ve enjoyed if you followed my suggestions. But on Sunday, it’s time to get back to business.

Sleep in a bit. And after you say your goodbyes to your family and your dog, it’s full steam ahead to December and finals.

There’s one week of classes left, so make a to-do list of all your assignments and upcoming test dates. Although you might feel like the semester is almost done, the past three months will have gone to waste if you’re not productive in the last few weeks.

Jaggar DeMarco, a junior majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.

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