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Like that most pivotal of years in U.S. history, 1776 is the number of today’s blog post. In addition to the usual topics, the previous 1,775 include annual odes to Thanksgiving, my most favorite of holidays. People who have never lived in the U.S. may find Thanksgiving perplexing. It’s not a religious holiday. No gifts are involved. And yet it’s not a patriotic holiday, like a National Day. But it’s a nearly universally shared holiday, and tomorrow, Thursday, will feel different from any other day in the year. You could call it an internally facing holiday, with the highlight being a special meal.
My annual Thanksgiving cooking doesn’t change radically from year to year, but it does evolve. The basic ingredients always turn up — we’re definitely Team Sweet Potato, and squash (a vegetable I love on the year’s other 364 days) or mashed potatoes don’t make an appearance. Nonetheless, I read avidly about the holiday, primarily recipes, but also about the meaning of a day dedicated to giving thanks. And so, I was pleased that my reading led me to an article by Elliot Ackerman, F03, in the food section of The New York Times.
Thanksgiving is our most communal of holidays and I like to check in with folks to be sure they have a meal planned or a destination. Among Fletcher students, some will travel to their families, others will stay here and host or be hosted, and many will create a short vacation and go somewhere else entirely. So long as no one is eating alone, I’m happy.
Everything I’ll cook for the meal comes from my list of standards. The only change will be the green vegetable. I’m thinking of a salad of shaved Brussels sprouts, but I could still go with roasting. After many years of hosting, I’m realistic about putting perfectly cooked vegetables on the table amid the frenzy of the final preparations, and yet I haven’t figured out the solution. Maybe the answer is a cold salad. Maybe next year I’ll be back to considering other options.
I’m fortunate that I never need to worry about fractiousness around the dinner table. I’m thankful for that. But the wider world offers challenges, so I will take Elliot Ackerman’s point as he says, “And we still, even on Thanksgiving, struggle to recognize one another as countrymen across economic, political and racial divides.” I’m thankful that Fletcher brings together people from across those divides, giving me daily opportunities to learn.
And with that, I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, whether you’re celebrating with family or friends, or looking forward to spending the holiday in the U.S. next year while a graduate student.
(Note that the Admissions Office will be closed on Thursday and Friday, but the blog will not rest! Check back on both days for a special feature.)
It isn’t that I love only the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. I love the lead-up to it, too. From the weekend onward, folks can be seen pulling suitcases along the sidewalk on their way to somewhere. Chatter about the weather gives way to questions about Thanksgiving plans. Newspapers dedicate space to discussion of how to put together a complicated meal, for those who only do so once each year.
Each year before Thanksgiving, I like to pause and thank Admissions Blog readers for giving me a forum to talk about my favorite holiday, as well as more admissions-relevant topics. I never forget that the decision to attend graduate school is one that our students take seriously and make only after much consideration. I’m happy that I can play a small role in helping them with their decision making.
Earlier this week, students set up a little crafts center and invited the community to make a hand turkey with a comment or wish on it. Anyone who was in school in the U.S. for preschool or the early grades will recognize these. Trace your hand and decorate the shape to look like a turkey. Anyway, the turkey messages in the Hall of Flags were very sweet, as was the very idea of creating an activity that would be silly and fun — a quick distraction from all the academic deliverables that students are getting ready to produce in the roughly four weeks that remain of the semester. The turkeys were put together on a “Wall of Gratitude,” positioned a short distance from the boxes collecting contributions for the Fletcher Food Drive.
Speaking of deliverables, my task for today is to bake bake bake. My objective is roughly the same as it was a few years back when I took this photo. Add an apple pie and swap out a cranberry pie for cranberry ginger cake, and I think that should do it. We’ll have 14 folks (including a recent Fletcher grad) and one baby over for dinner tomorrow. And then 17 on Friday! I won’t need to worry about eating leftovers after that.
Wishing all our readers a happy Thanksgiving, with good food and friends or family!
(The Admissions Office will be closed tomorrow and Friday. We’ll be back Monday morning, as usual.)
Two years ago on approximately this day, I published the Admissions Blog’s one thousandth post. Like the November morning when #1000 appeared, today is the day before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. This post, however, is a rather uncelebratory number 1,394, a total that includes several odes to our national holiday.
Since last week, I have been using spare blocks of time to accomplish a little of the Thanksgiving prep. On Friday, I shopped for food. On Saturday, I made cranberry sauce. On Sunday, I mixed the topping for a pie. And so on, until I will bake as much as time allows today and then finish up tomorrow.
It seems that every year there are more and more Thanksgiving gatherings for students who are staying in town. Last year there was a Blakeley Hall meal, and other feasts that students hosted at their apartments. Thanksgiving is an especially nice time to reach out and include others who may not have a feast of their own. Our family meal will also include my daughter’s roommate and my cousin’s Nepali neighbors.
Working at Fletcher, there’s a lot to be thankful for. It’s an interesting place, loaded with inspiring people who are committed to a common goal of joining (or preparing) the next generation of international affairs professionals. Within the Admissions Office, I am fortunate to work with a collection of characters who regularly go beyond what is expected and support each others’ work. And they frequently make me laugh in the process. That counts for a lot! Not to mention all the amazing students who volunteer to help us in so many ways, from conducting interviews to writing blog posts to hosting admitted students. We couldn’t get it all done without them!
Whether you’re in the U.S., celebrating in a remote location, or looking forward to learning more about this American holiday as a Fletcher student next year, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.
(Note that the Admissions Office will be closed from this afternoon through Sunday. We’ll be back on Monday.)
Because so many Americans head out on the highway to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving, I thought Admissions road trips might make good Thanksgiving reading. From Liz’s most recent trip, back to our old friend Peter’s trip to California during a period of wildfires, I’m lucky that someone is always willing to write about fall travels.
And because the time is right for many people who will apply in January to be working through their personal statements, I’ve gathered posts on essays for you. If you go back far enough, we were working with slightly different prompts (topics), but the essence of our guidance is still the same.
As I note every year, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’ll be joined by a bunch of family members for the traditional chaotic family meal.
But maybe Thanksgiving is not your holiday, and you’d like the blog to keep delivering content. Or perhaps it is your holiday, and you finally have some time to catch up on past posts. Fear not, blog readers. The blog will keep working through the holiday to bring you up-to-date on topics that may interest you.
And this always seems like a good moment to thank you for reading the blog. There are many ways to gather information about Fletcher, from our Facebook page, to our website, to our Twitter feed (not to mention the Admissions Facebook page, website, and Twitter feed), so I appreciate that you include the blog among your information gathering venues.
Now I’m off to prep for the holiday. Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are!
(Note that the Admissions Office, and the rest of Tufts University, will be closed both tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday.)
This is the 1000th post on the Fletcher Admissions Blog! We launched the blog in September of 2006. It took nearly five years to reach the 500th post in March 2011. In the last few years, I’ve been increasingly fortunate to have student and staff contributions that make my work easy, and that resulted in the second 500 posts being completed in less than three years.
Nearly every Admissions staffer has written something for the blog, giving us (among other topics) tales of reading applications in the company of big dogs and small dogs, tea cups, and swimmers, as well photos from the road. Of course, many students and, lately, alumni have allowed me to convince them to write, providing the best perspective on the Fletcher student experience.
I’ve been watching the post total climb, until I realized that if I just put up a post each day for the eight days leading to Thanksgiving, I could have the 1000th post appear on the day before the holiday. I have probably run out of ways to express how much I enjoy Thanksgiving — my favorite of all holidays. But in the spirit of the holiday, I’ll say that I am thankful for the opportunities created by the blog — to connect with future students, current students, alumni, staff, and faculty.
Needless to say — given that my primary role is admissions staffer, not full-time writer — the 1000 posts include a lot of quick updates and references to the weather. But there are a few posts that still provide fodder for conversation, including the Supermarket Smackdown that we somehow ended up discussing at a lunch with students last week, or the apple-peeler-corer that Admissions intern Juanita said she remembered reading about when she applied. (That fine little gizmo will be an important tool in my Thanksgiving pie production.)
I’m lucky to include in my workday a task that I so enjoy and that helps me build my Fletcher community. Work we enjoy — something to be thankful for. To all of my blog friends in, or from, the U.S., I wish you a very happy holiday! I’ll be back next week, kicking off the second thousand Admissions Blog posts.
So this afternoon, I’ll be getting ready — baking pies, primarily, but also setting up tables to accommodate about 20. The tables will come down after the meal tomorrow, but nearly everyone will return on Friday for a buffet meal of enhanced left-overs. A weekend of family and traditional foods seems like just the ticket right now.
Wearing my Admissions hat, naturally the latter part of the weekend will include Early Notification applications. Our new student readers have left me with a nice little pile of files. It’s always such fun to work with a fresh committee. Something to be thankful for in the work context.
With that, I’ll simply say to anyone inclined to celebrate the holiday, whether you’re in the U.S. or not, Happy Thanksgiving!
(And please note that the Admissions Office will be closed both Thursday and Friday for the holiday.)
I love Thanksgiving, and I always appreciate the extra long holiday weekend. But meeting our Early Notification goals means reading applications at some point before Monday. I have a couple of dozen applications — enough to need some time and focus, but not as many as I’ll bring home on a typical February weekend. So I’ll probably read a few tonight. Maybe a few tomorrow, while we’re waiting for my cousins to arrive. The rest? Well, knowing myself, I predict that Sunday will be organized around application reading.
But first the holiday. I’ll spend this afternoon baking more than is reasonable, which will put me in a Thanksgiving frame of mind. I’m trying a new pumpkin pie recipe, as well as some old favorites. Paul will demonstrate his expertise with stuffing and I’ll cook up the sweet potatoes. Tomorrow morning, I’ll pursue one of my favorite pre-meal traditions and take a walk. I live in a busy neighborhood, and I enjoy the quiet that comes when nearly everyone is inside preparing or socializing. Around 4:00, a cousin who lives locally will arrive at our house with a turkey and everything else that goes with it. Our annual ritual of food, family, and friends.
Wherever you are, and whatever your holiday traditions may be (or even if you didn’t realize the U.S. is celebrating a holiday this week), I wish you a happy Thanksgiving!
(Please note that the Admissions Office will be closed from Thursday through Sunday.)
Early Notification applications are in a range of states: some are stuck in a box awaiting missing materials; others have already been evaluated and are on their way to final Committee review and processing. The way that the calendar fell — with November 15 being a Monday, giving us only one pre-Thanksgiving weekend to read applications — I fear an end-of-process rush is in front of us. But we’ll deal with that when the time comes. First, it’s Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is just about my favorite day of the year, whether we’ll be celebrating with a crowd or a small group. It’s the most inclusive of American holidays, and I enjoy hearing people’s plans, as well as how they adapt the holiday to their cultural traditions. I also like to bake, and Thanksgiving provides a good audience for whatever I create. So tomorrow I’ll spend the day with all the ingredients spread over my counter and a steady procession of pies and cakes going in and out of the oven. We’ll have 11 family members and friends for dinner on Thursday and, in a still-evolving tradition, 13 for a post-movie dinner on Friday.
Later in the weekend, I’ll take time to review a small pile of applications. Mixing Thanksgiving and applications has, of necessity, become my own annual ritual. If your weekend may include both Thanksgiving and preparing an application to Fletcher, start by taking a little time to review the posts in the blog’s Admissions Tips category.
Please note that the office will be closed on both Thursday and Friday for the holiday. We’ll all be back on Monday. Have a great Thanksgiving!
I’m so happy that Thanksgiving is coming tomorrow. It’s by far my favorite holiday, one that is celebrated by most Americans, regardless of their origins or how long they have been in the country. I was talking about our holiday plans with Prof. Wachman as we came into the building one day last week. We talked about the challenges of making Thanksgiving about anything but “the food.” Let’s be honest — the food is a critical component, but to my family, the day is a cherished time when the usual activities are set aside in order to be together. That, itself, is something to be thankful for.
We’ll be serving dinner for 13 on Thursday. My cousin in nearby Watertown and I are partners in the endeavor, splitting the list of dishes to prepare. My mother-in-law (who, being from England, will experience her first Thanksgiving) is in town, and another cousin from New York will join us with his family. Add in a couple of friends, and that makes 13 people sitting cozily around my table for 12. And we’ll reconvene on Friday — 11 of us gathering for leftovers. I’ve already prepared a few things (cranberry relish and a chocolate nut candy that’s super indulgent), and some big-time baking will be happening in my kitchen later today.
We like to have a mix of activities and restful time during the long weekend. While we’re all together, we’ll probably see a movie or take a walk in a setting that reminds us we’re in New England — somewhere woodsy or historic. Of course, we’ll eat well throughout!
But on Saturday, it will start to feel like a normal November weekend and, for me, that will mean reading Early Notification applications. I’ve already brought home a stack, and they’re stored in a bag in a safe spot under a desk. I have to keep them in an obvious place, so I don’t forget to read them, but it needs to be a safe place, so I don’t risk dropping a casserole dish of sweet potatoes (with lemon glaze) on them.
To all the blog readers in, or from, the U.S., I wish you a very happy holiday!
(To all, a scheduling note: the Office will be closed on Thursday and Friday. We’ll be back to a regular schedule on Monday, November 30.)
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