This year I was faced with the tough decision of whether to go home to my aunt, uncle, and cousins in The Woodlands for Thanksgiving or stay in Austin to not only catch up with school (which wasn’t exactly accomplished) but really to be able to go to the Texas v. A&M game, which I always wanted to go to and I came to realize that this would be the last year while in school that this game would be played at home.
With some encouragement from my friends who were going to the game and Amanda and her family (I met Mandy even before we started college, during Camp Texas and we’ve been friends ever since) welcoming me into their home for Thanksgiving Day in Austin…I decided to spend Thanksgiving away from family for the first time. Since I started college I have spent Thanksgiving with family in The Woodlands (My parents and them share me for the holidays- I spend Thanksgiving with them and Christmas and New Years with my parents).
So I didn’t know what to expect being away from either one of the places I call “home.” But it reinforced further more the idea that Austin IS also home.
Mandy picked me up at around noon and we headed to her house, where her mom was waiting for us with a really really good Thanksgiving meal. I thought I would feel home sick without my parents or family there, but Mandy’s family was incredibly welcoming and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with one of the friends who has been there from the beginning of my college experience (Mandy and I actually sat together on our way to Camp Balcones Springs in Marble Falls from campus, so talk about being there from the very beginning…). It also happened to be Mandy’s 21st birthday, so definitely a special day for various reasons.
I think that spending Thanksgiving day with Mandy and her family also gave me the opportunity not only to spend Thanksgiving with another “Lopez” family (yes, they also happen to be Lopez) but to get to know more about her (needless to say, the numerous baby pictures of Mandy around the house was definitely part of it) and her family.
After we had Thanksgiving lunch, Mandy, her parents, and I headed back to campus for the game where I later met up with Jimmy, Nick, Anna, Michael, Matt, and Mei for the last game of the season.
The stadium was full, burnt orange and white, it felt like the spirit was was even more than in previous games I had attended, 45-35 signs and banners definitely stood out in the audience,
When the game ended, with our victory against the Aggies, it was harder to leave the stadium than in previous games- it was almost like we didn’t want to leave and say goodbye to the stadium until next Fall- but we weren’t the only ones.. more people than usual stayed even after the game had already ended.
After the game, Nick, Jimmy, Anna, and I met up with Jimmy’s parents who were incredibly kind to take us out to dinner to one of the few places that were open on Thanksgiving Day and that late at night. They, too, definitely contributed to keeping me from feeling home sick on a day like Thanksgiving Day being away from home, they gave me that family-feeling, too.
Mandy and Jimmy: although somewhat of a late notice, know that I adopted your parents for the day on Thursday, so thank you for sharing them with me!
It was definitely worth it to stay in my Austin home for Thanksgiving. It also marked the first Texas v. Texas A&M game I ever attended, the end of the first football season I attended almost every game (okay, except for Arkansas and Missouri, for reasons I previously blogged about…) and I definitely had the greatest time with my group at each game!
It was also really touching when the rest of my friends found out that I was not going to stay in Austin for Thanksgiving and they started offering their homes and families (even those who don’t live in Austin) for me to spend Thanksgiving day with. It made me realize yet again that they, too are family and that comes with that feeling that I always have of how much like home UT has really become.
Lesson # ___ : you can never, ever, ever have enough pictures of and/or with the Tower!