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Staff Editorial: Navigating Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday, both in its history and its current implications. As a “holiday break” it can also be a complex time of year to navigate, both for students staying on campus and those going home. So whether you’re getting on a plane to see family, road-tripping to a friend’s house, or staying local, be mindful of the variety of experiences and emotions this time of year can bring.

The period from Nov. 22-26 is explicitly named “Thanksgiving Break” by the University Registrar’s calendar. It’s crucial that the “break” aspect of this time period comes to fruition. For that to be possible, professors must abide by the university policy which limits the days during and following a scheduled break in which larger assignments can be due. Professors are prohibited from assigning any work during the explicitly outlined dates of break and cannot make major assignments due within a calendar day of resuming classes as normal afterwards. Though not outlined in the policy, professors should be mindful of assigning large amounts of work to be due during the dates immediately preceding breaks as well, as the prices for flights and trains are dramatically higher the closer to Thanksgiving day. In order for many students to be able to afford to go home for the holidays, they may have to depart earlier than the specified dates of the official break. 

Aside from schoolwork, for many, going home isn’t as relaxing as the break in classes may suggest. If going home is a point of stress or anxiety, know that you are not alone. Instead of focusing on that upcoming ordeal, try to focus on the community you have around you here. One of the best ways to do this is through a “friendsgiving,” which can be as casual or organized as you and your group sees fit. Have everyone bring a dish, ranging from turkey to mac and cheese to pie — or have everyone bring a food or drink that has nothing to do with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Friendsgiving is whatever you make of it, but it’s a great way to surround yourself with good people and create a supportive environment before tackling whatever the holiday may bring. If it feels too last minute to plan a friendsgiving in the next few days, get something on the calendar for immediately after break!

It can be hard to separate school and break without a change in location. If you’re staying on campus, there is plenty to do as well! First and foremost, sleep in. Slow down, wander through campus, read a book for pleasure as opposed to homework. Take long showers, take advantage of the lack of lines for dining options, and take a more leisurely approach to campus life. If you are craving structured events or want to take the break as an opportunity to explore St. Louis, there is a ton going on — both holiday-related and not.

Wednesday at 3 p.m. Washington University men’s basketball will face Illinois Wesleyan at home in the fieldhouse. Come out and support the Bears! This isn’t the only opportunity to attend a sporting event over the break, as the St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators on Friday following Thanksgiving at 2 p.m. 

If you want to lean into the Thanksgiving-ness of the break, St. Louis has a 5k and 8k Turkey Trot race on Thanksgiving day, as well as a Thanksgiving parade downtown. Less Thanksgiving-specific but definitely holiday-season-adjacent are Garden Glow which opens Nov. 18 at the botanical gardens and Wild Lights at the zoo which are open the 24-26 and other select evenings throughout November and December.

This is also a great time of year to be part of volunteering efforts. There are a variety of ways to give back to the community, such as volunteering with local food banks and emergency housing shelters including the St. Louis Area Food Bank and organizations like Loaves and Fishes

Perhaps the holiday season isn’t something you want to lean into. There are still plenty of options for exploring the city and taking advantage of being in St. Louis over break. Forest Park is home to several museums, including the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum, as well as a number of other free activity spaces. All of these are within walking distance from campus and are affordable and accessible options –– and the park is beautiful to walk through this time of year. Additionally, St. Louis is made up of several neighborhoods, each with its own unique history, landmarks, and culture. Take the break as an opportunity to check them out –– wander in and out of shops, try a new cafe, and explore beyond the “WashU Bubble.”

So if this upcoming break is something you’ve been looking forward to for weeks or a time period you’ve been dreading, if you’re going home or staying on campus, if you’re excited to spend time with your family or if the holiday brings more challenges than relaxation, just know that whatever your relationship with this time of year, it’s valid. Be mindful when talking about Thanksgiving break plans that everyone has different experiences with their families, their friends, traveling, and the holiday in general, and be respectful of all the emotions that the break stirs. Regardless, try as best you can to take this time as a break from school, work, and the daily grind. Do your best to put the textbooks down and truly relax.

Alice Gottesman, Senior Scene Editor

Reilly Brady, Managing Forum Editor

Sylvie Richards, Senior Forum Editor

Jasmine Stone, Senior Forum Editor

Jordan Spector, Junior Forum Editor

Clara Richards, Editor-in-Chief

Hussein Amuri, Managing Sports Editor

Ian Heft, Sports Editor

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