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Mount Creative Writers

A Different Thanksgiving

Chelsea Baranoski

(11/2010) This year, Thanksgiving will be different. For the past four years, I have left my "home away from home," Mount St. Mary's University, to go home to Pasadena, Maryland for Thanksgiving. The break always zoomed by like a red Corvette. I celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandparents' house, woke at the crack of dawn to work at Aeropostale on Black Friday, and then shopped for snacks, school supplies, and toiletries I needed at the Mount. And of course there was homework that I needed to complete. Thanksgiving might have been a break, but it certainly was not a break from schoolwork. Worries of future tests, papers, and reading assignments continued to clog my brain. The turkey and gravy could only keep my mind off of schoolwork for so long.

Unlike in the past, schoolwork will not be nestled in the back of my brain on Thanksgiving Day. Still it feels strange that my sister has the college workload during the break. I feel like I should be the sister in college, the sister with enough reading to make her eyeballs fall out and enough worries for a classroom full of students. Indeed, the lack of schoolwork makes me feel like I am still in summer mode. However, it does feel good to know that I put tests and papers behind me when I graduated from the Mount in May. Because of this lack of schoolwork, I believe I will have relatively few worries this Turkey Day. Even my work-related stress seems to be fizzling out. Because I am working at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections, my main focus has been gearing up for the 2010 Gubernatorial General Election. Since General Election Day is November 2, a lot of my work-related stress will be over by Thanksgiving. I will not need to worry about proofing specimen ballots, working a ton of overtime, (Primary Election Day was a 19 hour workday), and making sure the voting units and electronic pollbooks are ready. Indeed, Thanksgiving will hopefully be a day of relaxation. I can concentrate on celebrating the holiday with my family and recalling everything that I am thankful for.

I will be grateful for many things. First, I am grateful that I was able to find a job after graduating from Mount St. Mary's. I started working two days after graduation. Whoever said that English majors couldn't find jobs? I am very grateful to be working at the Board of Elections, especially since the economy has gone downhill. I enjoy editing and proofing the numerous documents that come my way. This might sound geeky, but editing is like a game for me. Each mistake I find is like another point earned on the scoreboard. I am also thankful that I am able to work a lot hours. Even though the long days can be tiring, I am grateful for the opportunity to work. I like to be busy and I know that every dollar I earn means that I am one step closer to paying off my loans, buying a car, and renting an apartment in either Annapolis or Baltimore. When I work 40-hour weeks (and sometimes many more hours than that!), I feel like I am finally an adult, one who is ready for added responsibilities.

In addition to being thankful for my job, I am also thankful that I have maintained contact with my friends from the Mount. Even though our adult schedules are a lot different and busier than our college schedules, we still manage to make time to talk on the phone and catch up on the latest news. We also try our best to visit one another. I recently met my friend Benitez for dinner at Rocky Run, a restaurant in the mall close to my house. I also ran into the Mount's SGA President, Tom, when I was out to dinner with one of my high school friends. Over the summer, I attended a fellow Mountie's graduation party. It was good to see other members of the Class of 2010 and hear about their new jobs. In addition, I spent a warm August day in Philadelphia with Alyssa, Fallon, and Melissa, three of my friends from the Mount. We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Love Park. And our trip would not have been complete without an authentic Philly cheesesteak, of course! I am even traveling to New York with Melissa to celebrate Alyssa and Fallon's birthdays. I cherish my time with Mounties and I hope that we can all get together for Homecoming. It would be great to see a Mount basketball game and hang out at Ott's afterward. My friends are definitely what I miss the most.

Furthermore, I am fortunate to have remained so close to my mom during my four years away from home. While I was at the Mount, I talked with her on the phone every day. I talked about classes, weekend plans, fun events on campus, and all sorts of Mount news. I think that I felt inclined to talk to my mom on the phone everyday because I could not break the habit of coming home from school and telling her about my day. My mom was always there to listen. Even though she was not physically present at the Mount, I really felt like she was traveling my college journey with me. She saw me through four years of ups and downs, from jumping-up- and-down excitement to falling-to-your-knees heartache. I am fortunate that I can talk to my mom about almost anything. She is truly my best friend and I am grateful for our close relationship.

In addition, I am thankful to have family, friends, and professors who support me in my writing endeavors. Every month, I pick up copies of the Emmitsburg News Journal for my "fans," which consist of my parents, my grandparents, and most recently, my boss at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections. I am very grateful for any support I receive for my writing. I realized that I wanted to be a writer in fourth grade, when my teacher told me that I was a good writer. Unfortunately many people do not understand my love for writing. If I had a quarter for every time someone told me that I would never make any money, I would be as rich as Bill Gates. And then there is the frequent question: "What are you going to do with an English major? Are you going to be a teacher?" It is nice to know people who understand the role writing plays in my life. I love that my family and friends do not belittle me for wanting a career in writing. They know what I love, and they support my career goals. My professors at the Mount also supported my writing. In particular, I am thankful for my creative writing professor, Dr. Bligh, for he sent me numerous emails about creative writing contests and he was always there to help me revise my creative writing.

Finally, I am thankful for my four years at the Mount. The Mount prepared me to conquer the working world. I grew up during my time there. I learned to become independent when I lived on campus, an hour and a half away from my family. I learned to make my own decisions, and I learned to be strong in the face of difficulty. I have wonderful memories: admiring the gorgeous fall colors on Mary's mountainside, enjoying the Christmas and Homecoming dances, eating with my friends in Patriot Hall, and dancing the night away at the Senior Pig Roast. I believe that I made the right choice when I chose to attend the Mount. Indeed, it was the perfect fit for me; I made friends who saw me through life's bumpy ride, I had professors who were willing to help me when I had questions, and I grew in my faith by participating in Campus Ministry. The Mount will always have a special place in my heart and I cannot wait for my next trip to Mary's mountain.

Thus, Thanksgiving will be a lot different this year. Instead of worrying about going back to school, I can truly reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving and all of those things that I am grateful for. It feels wonderful not to have the weight of papers and tests on my shoulders. However, one thing about the Thanksgiving season has not changed: I will still be working at Aeropostale on Black Friday. And after working in this Black Friday warzone, I will be back to work at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections. My Thanksgiving "break" may be short, but I know that I will have the time to reflect on what I am thankful for. And this is the kind of Thanksgiving that I have been waiting for.

Chelsea was the 2010 recipient of the Mountís
William Heath Creative Writing Award

Read other articles by Chelsea Baranoski