November 27, 2011

Cornell: My Favorite Holiday

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In my home, if you don’t leave the Thanksgiving table with a healthy amount of plaque in your arteries and at least a 10-pound weight gain, the cooks haven’t done their jobs right.

Needless to say, as I sit in the Philadelphia airport munching on my new diet of lettuce and air, I can’t help but feel at odds.

This year, we hosted the entire island of Puerto Rico (well, really only my mother’s sister and my grandmother — but a close approximation, nonetheless) and my dad’s side of the family in our home.

For those who are counting, that’s 17 people, two languages and a 20-pound bird to somehow bring us all together.

As you can well imagine, my dining room table might seem a breeding ground for chaos. But there is something about the holidays that can bring even the most disparate people together around one table for one common goal.

In a way, our time at Cornell is like a holiday too.

Sure, we have prelims to take, loans to worry about, jobs to apply for and a myriad of stresses.

But when you’re sitting in your history class — or sleeping in your Orgo class — you can forget those things, if just for a moment. You remember why you came to Cornell in the first place: because you love to learn.

Every day at Cornell we are surrounded by our friends — our surrogate families. Much like our own families back home, our friends support us through our misery, but also lift us up in our victories.

And in the same way that we have parents and grandparents to look up to, we have a mountain of alumni on whose shoulders we stand, reminding us through their example that if they make it through Cornell, then so can we.

But it doesn’t stop at Cornell. When we come home, it’s a holiday too. It’s Thanksgiving. It’s Christmas. It’s Easter. It’s Mom and Dad stressed out about work, siblings getting on your nerves, grandparents pinching your cheeks a little too hard.

But it’s also putting everything on hold and coming together, in part, because a family missing a son or a daughter is finally whole again.

There’s this strange time warp we experience as students. Life moves so quickly in college, but we expect it to remain stagnant at home.

For the first time this year, I realized that things are different. My grandmothers may be older, but they look more beautiful. My cousins are nearly as tall as I am — and when did they turn five and six?

As time flies by, those moments with my family seem all the more precious.

And when I come back to Cornell this afternoon, I want to experience the same feeling. I want to appreciate my Cornell family with the same intensity that I felt this Thanksgiving.

After all, I only have one semester left here. I might as well spend every day like it’s a holiday.

Cristina Stiller is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at [email protected]. Believe You Me appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: Cristina Stiller