The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



A Notre Dame Thanksgiving

The Observer Staff | Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, bringing with it the requisite Thursday night feasts and the subsequent food-induced naps.
For students scrambling to keep up with hectic end-of-semester schedules, Thanksgiving break provides a welcome respite from the constant hustle and bustle of life at Notre Dame: a time to sleep, eat and catch up on missed episodes of favorite TV shows.
But Thanksgiving holds significance beyond its consistent ability to induce food comas and remedy our perpetual sleep deprivation. The very word “thanksgiving” encourages us to actively express gratitude for the blessings we’ve been granted, but the importance of that action is often overshadowed by Grandma’s delicious pumpkin pie. Though Americans have a tendency to commercialize holidays, Thanksgiving actually retains its traditional focus on uniting friends and family through a shared meal and quality time together. Whether you catch a plane home Tuesday night or stay on campus during break, chances are you won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving without some semblance of family surrounding you.
That essential emphasis on family is important enough to warrant days off work and school to allow people to spend time with their relatives and be grateful for their presence in each other’s lives. And beyond our individual family trees, we as Notre Dame students have another family to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Despite its frequent, often clichéd overuse in Domer-to-Domer conversations, the tight-knit “Notre Dame family” has a real, tangible influence on nearly every aspect of our lives whether we recognize it or not.
We can thank the academics of the family, our professors, for challenging us to think outside the box, to work to our full potential, to expand our learning beyond the classroom and into the local, national and global communities.
We can thank our peers for living with us, for studying with us, for having fun with us, for supporting us through the ups and downs of the four-year rollercoaster ride that is college.
We can thank our rectors and campus religious figures for providing spiritual guidance and moral support whenever we need it most. We can thank the people like the maintenance and cleaning staff that make the daily operations of this campus possible.
We can thank various branches of the University for giving us countless opportunities to become global citizens and expand our experience beyond the Notre Dame bubble through study and service abroad.
We can thank this year’s football team for uniting the student body and the worldwide Irish fan base behind an undefeated team with hopes of restoring the University to the gridiron glory of lore.
Through these and other avenues, the multifaceted influence of the biggest of Irish families encourages us to prioritize people and relationships over grades and individual glory. Thanks to our Notre Dame education and experience, we are a community of highly motivated, extremely successful individuals who also happen to approach all that we do with a compassionate spirit unique to past, current and future residents of this hallowed campus.
And like any family, we have our flaws. We argue. We don’t get along perfectly all the time. But for all our whining about parietals and papers, we know deep down why putting up with those challenges for eight fleeting semesters sets us apart from the crowd.
Manti Te’o, perhaps the most visible member of the Notre Dame community right now, summed it up best in a recent interview with fellow Domer Kate Sullivan.
“Notre Dame isn’t a school, it’s a family.”
When we leave this University, whether a semester or three years from now, we will leave as lifelong Domers, knowing any member of the extended Notre Dame family will support us through thick and thin.
So when you’re digging into your third slice of pumpkin pie next Thursday, take time to be thankful for all the family members who couldn’t fit at your table, but would give anything to be there with you anyway.