Oberlin Blogs


December 3, 2011

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

For the second year in a row, I decided to stay in Oberlin for Thanksgiving with a few twists:

- No #fiercegiving crowd. I miss that trio fiercely (Ali and Patrick are both off in the real world of Washington, D.C., and Carolyn is abroad in Israel this semester).

- I had Thanksgiving three time in five days. The first was a big family meal with Ben, Midge and Smith Brittingham, and their family, both blood and might-as-well-be on Thursday; the second was a small "Oberlin family" meal with Ben, Amanda, and Daniel on Friday; and the third was a giant Sunday-dinner-style Thanksgiving back at the Brittinghams on Sunday (Simba wrote all about it!).

- It's the first time in six years that I've had a Thanksgiving meal with an immediate family member. My parents are probably jumping with joy over the thought of this.

But before we get started with the requisite holiday menus and gratuitous food pictures, I'm going to backtrack to Wednesday, because Wednesday was filled with wonderful wonderful things.

When you're in college, you usually still have class on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. (Similarly, when you're a big kid and have a job, you have work on Wednesday.) Usually students have worked like crazy in preparation to leave for their out-of-Oberlin festivities, and even if you're not leaving town, everyone is antsy for a break (even though fall break was just a few weeks ago), faculty and staff included.

I got to work on Wednesday, and realized that my office was quiet. Too quiet. After an hour and a half of rather sluggish morning email writings and research, I realized I couldn't be there anymore and decided to go out and be social (fact: this is one of the best words in my job description, closely followed by the words "media" and "coordinator." This job was made for me). I grabbed a stack of blank white paper, biked to Ben Franklin to pick up some colorful markers, headed to Mudd library, and began.

So, you guys remember hand turkeys? You know, when you put your hand down on a sheet of paper and traced it, then turned the thumb into a turkey head and decorated all the "feathers" and the rest of the turkey body? You probably last did this in kindergarten. (Same here.) But why did we stop? It's still fun, and especially after a long week, a creative outlet (markers!) is a great segue into a break. Also, we have so many things to be thankful for.

I walked up to as many people as possible: friends, faculty, people I'd never met before, and asked if they'd trace their hand and write something (or several things) they were thankful for this year. Practically everyone I met happily took a sheet of paper and grabbed one (or many) markers, proceeded to trace their hands, and then decorated and contemplated to their hearts' content.

I won't overwhelm you with the 65 drawings I received here on my blog, but I'll share a selection of them below. It was an incredibly delightful use of my time on Wednesday, and after staggering the posts on the Oberlin College Facebook page and on our college Tumblr throughout the holiday weekend, I was filled with so much joy as people discovered them, too.

Drawing of a hand with phrases in each finger

For family! For good friends! For challenging opportunities! ...And for other things! I can't remember!


Drawing of a hand with the phrase shown below in the palm



I'm thankful for friends and hands to hold them.


Someone holds a hand with the phrase below written inside

I am thankful for contemporary art. (And love. Also thankful for love.)

A hand that resembles an octupus

I'm thankful for people who are thankful for me.

A hand with a musical note inside

I'm very thankful for my family.

A hand that resembles a turkey

I'm thankful for sugar and butter.


A hand that resembles a turkey



I am thankful for all the wonderful people in my life. You've helped me more than you know.


A hand that resembles a turkey

Family, friends, Oberlin, my bed, beautiful things.
Simple outline of a hand


I'm thankful for being healthy and attending a great school.


A hand that resembles a turkey

I am thankful for the large amount of very "new music" that is performed, studied, and conceived in Oberlin.


A hand that resembles a turkey



I'm thankful for my parents' love and honest, my friends' undying support, and the privilege of coming to this school surrounded by amazing people.


A hand that resembles a turkey

Awesome coworkers! Secret santa friends! The Oberlin Review on microfilm! Primary source documents! Happiness!


A hand that resembles a turkey



I am thankful 4 everyone who loves me and especially the ones I love 2.


A hand that resembles a turkey

I am thankful for my family at home and the lovely Oberlin family I have found here.

A hand that resembles a turkey

I'm thankful for Oberlin. (Hey! Me too!)

Now that you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, let me make you hungry, too. My Thanksgiving(s)! All of them! They were all DELICIOUS!

After an adventurous shopping trip on Wednesday night, Amanda, Ben, Daniel, and I sat down to a pasta dinner with prosciutto, poached eggs, and arugula and then continued into the evening making a pumpkin cheesecake for Friday (I wanted to have a game night; cheesecake seemed to be a natural addition). At some point, most of our mental capacities escaped us and we ended up piling on the couch for a few hours of Skyping with far-away friends (hi Milner!) and watching Helvetica (yes, we are the biggest nerds).

Much of Thursday morning and early afternoon was spent making a killer green bean casserole (recipe here from last Thanksgiving) and preparing some basic things for the meal I was making on Friday. Ben dropped by after starting to make his rosemary basil bread to pick up some brown paper bags for storing his finished product (he made 16 loaves!), and Daniel began making drunken yams for the Thanksgiving he was attending.

Green beans inside of a colander

Green bean casserole in its beginning stages.


A student adding spices to a mug


Daniel prepares the sauce for the drunken yams.


Dough in a bowl


Ben's bread, photo and recipe sent to my parents and me early on Thursday morning. (Photo by Ben, too.)

By late afternoon, I was at Midge and Smith's, where family and friends and laid-back cooking continued into the evening with a background of muted football but extensive viewer commentary. Ben and I talked briefly to our parents, who were headed to a Thanksgiving meal on the beach (yeahhhhh I guess you guys can be jealous of that). I learned about browning flour to make a traditional Southern-style gravy, I peeled lots of potatoes, and talked turkey with Smith.

Then all the food happened. I didn't overeat for the first time ever on Thanksgiving, even though it was extremely hard to not go back for seconds of the green bean casserole and stuffing (my two favorite turkey day dishes), and I actually had room for pumpkin pie. There was a mix of ages (YAY!) and families in different pieces and stages, and when we all shared our reminiscing stories, we all chimed in with guffaws, questions, and thoughts, whether we had heard them before or not.

Carving a turkey

Pouring wine into a glass at a dinner table

A thanksgiving feast on platters

A plate of food

The table set decorativel

The table filled with people and plates of food

Cutting a pumpkin pie

A slice of pie

After the food began to settle in our stomachs, Ben and I went out on an evening walk to visit our friends as their meals were wrapping up. Both of us ended up going to bed relatively early, and I woke up on Friday morning prepared to take on my own solo Thanksgiving meal.

The meal was an overwhelmingly delicious combination of food, my first turkey (which I modeled off of Patrick's from last year) was amazing, and I created so many fantastic leftovers and sandwiches for the rest of the next week.

A table filled with thanksgiving food

Students sit and eat at a coffee table

Thanksgiving with Oberlin family. ♥

Just for the record, this year's leftovers bore double vanilla french toast (with Ben's bread) with cranberry sauce, turkey tamales, chipotle-corn turkey soup, turkey reuben croquettes, and a turkey mulligatawny soup. And of course, sandwiches.

French toast

French toast YUM. With greek yogurt and cranberry sauce.

A sandwhich on a plate

Thanksgiving sandwiches!

Things I have learned from this year's Thanksgiving celebrations:

- Yes, it is possible to make an entire Thanksgiving meal on your own in a day's time with lots of leisure built in.

- Wash your dishes as you dirty them. It makes a world of difference when it comes to cleaning up after the meal.

- Pumpkin cheesecake is amazing. I am confident enough to bake it without a recipe, too, which is a big deal. I don't bake, especially sweet things, so this is a big step for me.

- Having Oberlin family around is the best kind of family time. I find that every year, Thanksgiving both strengthens and redefines my definition of family, and I am incredibly thankful for that.

- Obies just make Thanksgiving better. I think that might sum up everything above in a single sentence.

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