On a rainy Thursday evening, with the wind whipping outside, Justin and I began the daunting process of cooking a Thanksgiving meal in a dorm room kitchen. While I boiled potatoes to soften them for mashing, he roasted the squash he had delivered from Instacart that morning. “See! I told you it always takes so much longer to soften them than it says in recipes!” I joked, referencing the 45-minute mark on the potatoes compared to the recipe’s false proclamation of perfect consistency around 10-15 minutes. “Thank god we didn’t wait to cook this until Saturday morning like we had planned,” he laughed. As two of the three seniors in our 4Boston group, we shouldered the responsibility of cooking two key components of the meal: mashed potatoes and butternut squash casserole. The third senior roasted the turkey, so he definitely deserves an honorable mention. We had a Friendsgiving scheduled for that Saturday night, one last hurrah before much of our small group headed home for the remainder of the semester.
Since we’re close outside of 4Boston, Justin and I worked together to discuss what we would make and split the prices of wine and cider for everyone. As two of the seniors, it makes sense that we would share responsibilities of planning and providing, but here’s the catch: this is my first year in 4Boston. Taking a nontraditional path of joining the largest and most prevalent volunteer organization on campus in my final year at BC was an unusual choice. Justin recommended I join his group back in August, as I was looking to find a new community at BC coming into this semester. Now in November, we jointly prepared for the group’s Friendsgiving together in my kitchen. While he peeled apples and I mashed my finally softened potatoes, I asked him about his decision to include me, and a little about his experience in 4Boston as a whole.
“I had concerns about it,” he admitted, “definitely was excited to have you but obviously there are concerns when you bring in someone close to you to a group outside of your immediate circle.” He quickly added, though, “but I love how it has worked out.” By this point, he was forcefully jamming the potato masher into the tough, white pieces (I guess they weren’t as ready as I thought). I snuck some apple slices from his dish while he helped me, and asked him about what he thought would look different about Friendsgiving this year, compared to his past experiences with this annual event that is a definite favorite of his.
“This year I was really focused on Friendsgiving being a communal gathering where everyone shared and brought food,” he said, “because we have missed certain opportunities to come together as a group this year because of online volunteering.” In light of the pandemic, 4Boston has looked a little different this year, but Justin knew it was important to safely share a meal together before saying our goodbyes until the spring.
After a socially distanced gameday Saturday, Justin and I headed off-campus with our final products in hand. I held my tupperware of garlic truffle mashed potatoes and a bottle of apple cider, while he carried his butternut squash casserole topped with apples and a crumble topping made of pecans, brown sugar, and butter. Other group members brought a turkey, stuffing, cornbread, cookies, and various other sweets and sides. While we ate together in a living room decorated with earthy, fall colors, we went through our highs and lows like we always do. Rather than the formal atmosphere of our weekly second-floor Gasson reflections, the cozy setting of a festive living room allowed for natural conversation and authentic connections. The evening was full of home-cooked meals, classic rock, a little Christmas music, and endless giggling games of Never-Have-I-Ever and cards. I left feeling happy and whole, and Justin declared on the bus ride home that it was his favorite Friendsgiving yet.
As a senior who has had far too much time to self-reflect this year, I’ve realized a Boston College student is composed of their enmeshed memberships to various networks and circles. We all have our roommates, our classmates, our clubmates, our abroad friends, our retreat groups, and the list goes on and on all the way down to the people we recognize from that Tuesday night spin class we occasionally attend. With COVID-19 concerns, many of us are experiencing burnout from our immediate friend groups this year, finding it hard to reach out to our more peripheral associations. At least, I am. While sitting in an intimate living room holding a plate full of food with people I’ve only known for a couple months, however, I got that warm feeling of community that is so precious in today’s socially-distant world. In a non-traditional senior semester, I found in my 4Boston group the spirit of togetherness that is, fundamentally, the soul of BC. To freshmen, I’d say—as someone who’s been in the group the same amount of time that they have—it’s never too late to add a new niche.
Cover photo courtesy of Taste of Home