This past weekend was Oberlin's parent and family weekend. The idea is simple: open Oberlin up to the people you consider family and let them see a little bit about the place where you live, work, and study.
I have worked at Oberlin for 15 years. During that time the number people I would consider to be a part of my Oberlin family has grown and morphed. There is my own biological family... they live here in the wee town of Oberlin. There are my co-workers, who some weeks I see as much if not more often than my own family. There are colleagues that I admire and respect. There are friends in town (with no connection to the college of the same name). There are, of course, my students. All of these folks make up my Oberlin extended family.
I am one of those people who gets to use this cute little signature after her name: Oberlin P '14. That means I am a Parent of a person in the class of 2014.
Until recently, I thought he was the only blood relative of mine who had studied here. I was wrong.
Meet Virginia Sawhill, Class of 1950.
I found about about Virginia thanks to Ken Grossi, the College archivist, and due to two other Sawhill connections here at Oberlin. One was my own son, while he was helping out at the First-Year Orientation. The other was my 2nd cousin, Howard, parent of an incoming first-year, who met my son at Orientation and made the connection. Howard and his wife, Nancy, found me soon thereafter. Squeals of delight ensued. Much drawing of long-limbed family trees, questions about geography (Kansas or Pennsylvania?) and silent comparisons of noses, eyes and gestures soon followed. Family: found.
As we wind our way into the holiday season I am reminded of one other Oberlin family, and that is the community of people we bring together each year to celebrate Thanksgiving in our house.
As soon as Hallowe'en has passed, my husband starts worrying about the "orphans," that is, the students on campus who don't have a place to have turkey and all of the fixings in a home.
He loves to cook. People love to eat. Please pass the stuffing.
Each year we open our house to about 15-20 people: our own family, colleagues, graduates, international students, friends, neighbors...and one year we were joined by our plumber, given that the 2nd floor bathroom pipes burst precisely at the moment that the turkey was exiting the oven.
The food is great, the company is lively, and we feel very lucky that our Oberlin family (just like our waistbands) grows each year.
May your Thanksgiving 2012 break be filled with food and happiness and love and family -- however you choose to define it -- !