By Faith Rouillard, Contributing Writer
Around the holidays we seem to indulge ourselves more than ever when it comes to tasty treats. A former bread lover spots the stuffing from across the room, she wants it desperately…her gluten allergy doesn’t care!
A dairy enthusiast has worked so hard all year and feels he deserves a small slice of cheesecake…his lactose intolerance doesn’t care!
An aspiring vegan sees a Christmas ham, juicy and glazed. “One bite won’t hurt,” she thinks. Her moral compass doesn’t care!
Dietary restrictions affect many and are just another reason to dread the holidays. Thanksgiving is behind us, Christmas is yet to come, and COVID is all around us. Many are choosing to stay put in the homes they reside in. At first glance, this seems like a bummer to not spend Christmas at your great Aunt Sally’s who you see for that one day a year… and funerals. Wait, is that really a bummer?
Living with a dietary restriction, though it’s not the worst thing, can make for uncomfortable situations. Great Aunt Sally always forgets to accommodate (on accident). “Wait, I can’t put butter in the mashed potatoes? I didn’t think that was dairy!” or “Vegetarians can eat chicken right? It’s white meat!” As the complicated eater, you never want to make the host upset or feel bad, leaving you with few options: “Aunt Sally, I actually ate before I came and I’m all set, thank you though!” And starve. Or “Thank you, Aunt Sally, it looks great! My lactose intolerance actually went away!” And you pay for it later. First world problems, am I right?
Maybe I’m just a scrooge, but is all this stress really worth it? I constantly wait for the dreaded questions when eating at a family function—“You’re vegan? That’s stupid,” I feel miserable after the event knowing I inconvenienced the host. Let’s start educating our family tree on dietary restrictions and move on with our lives.
Cheers to eating our feelings during our newfound quarantine Christmas. But hey, at least we get to eat whatever the hell we want.
Zion Hodgkin Contributing Writer
As Maine Gov. Janet Mills recently signed legislation replacing Columbus Day day with Indigenous People’s Day, perspectives on Thanksgiving are changing too. The ethics of the holiday’s very existence as well as the traditions in the celebration of it are now in question.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, and now, nearly 400 years later, it is celebrated in much the same manner. People get together with their loved ones, eat a ton of food, and feel happy about what they’ve achieved- but should we?
“The story goes,” writes one Business Insider article, “friendly local Native Americans swooped in to teach the struggling colonists how to survive in the New World. Then everyone got together to celebrate with a feast in 1621.”
However, the true beginning of Thanksgiving celebrations is believed to start instead in 1637, “owing to the fact Massachusetts colony governor John Winthrop declared a day of thanks-giving,” continues Business Insider, “to celebrate colonial soldiers who had just slaughtered 700 Pequot men, women, and children in what is now Mystic, Connecticut.”
Though the exact specificities and dates of this “First Thanksgiving” event may not be well known, most people, “are more aware that the story isn’t just what was taught in school,” proclaims Austin Kieth, former UMF student. “I just think people are more politically and historically involved. We are more aware of what Indigenous people went through.”
Katrazyna Randall, Associate Professor of Art, speaks about how she feels the holiday isn’t celebrated for the right reasons, but also why she thinks it isn’t celebrated in the right way. “One of the first things that strikes me, is how much it’s become about the idea of the nuclear family. In its origination it was about the harvest and about the community,” says Randall. “We don’t recognize ourselves as part of a community anymore, so that whole concept of it that is something worth celebrating doesn’t really exist anymore, it’s now about getting together with your family to have a dinner.”
Randall continues by thinking about how to shift the way a holiday born from a story of massacre is viewed and celebrated. “I sort of feel like things like Thanksgiving could go away, and that we need to invent new celebrations that celebrate our current civic reality,” Randall says. “I think that we should move more towards community celebrations and more civic engagement. I don’t think that we should be celebrating anything that represents the brutalization of another culture.”
Keith, however, believes that the reinvention doesn’t need to happen on such a grand scale. “I think it can still be a reason for family to come together and eat food and be happy together,” he says. “It’s a good moral thing, but it shouldn’t be associated with the event in which we killed so many people, to take and keep the land we grew the crops on that we ate during the ‘great feast’. I think they should be fully separate, one is a horrific massacre that we shouldn’t celebrate, the other is just a day to be grateful and to be with family.”
By Leah Boucher – Staff Reporter
UMF’s honor society Alpha Lambda Delta donated Thanksgiving baskets to ten families with children who attend the W.G. Mallett School in an effort to combat local hunger. Families in financial need were provided with food for a full Thanksgiving meal to cook and eat together during the holiday season.
Sarah Jenkins, Secretary of Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD), worked this year as the Thanksgiving Drive Coordinator. Her responsibilities consisted of contacting the school to arrange this drive, finding the number of families in need, and ultimately getting donations for a successful drive.
Sarah Jenkins, Kayla Tremblay, and Morgan Leso stand in front of several Thanksgiving baskets donated to families in the Farmington area.
Photo credit: Leah Boucher
Kayla Tremblay, President of ALD, worked with Jenkins to set a goal of raising $300 this semester for the baskets. “This is the third year we have organized this drive, and in past years, we have asked for donations of canned goods or for businesses to create Thanksgiving baskets themselves,” said Tremblay. “Because this year’s need rose to making ten baskets, we chose to ask for donations in the form of money. That way ALD members could go shopping together to make sure all baskets had the exact same items.”
Baskets consisted of cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, a bag of potatoes, gravy, mixes for 3 different pies, pie crusts, a loaf of bread and a gift card to purchase a turkey for each family.
“Last year, we donated five baskets to families, and I reached out to car dealerships to donate,” said Jenkins. “As a representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for cross country and track, I brought up the idea of partnering with ALD, as the committee wanted to participate in a service project, and this encouraged ALD to look for donations solely within the UMF community this year.”
Not only did Jenkins encourage SAAC, who raised over $180, to donate, but she challenged other UMF clubs to raise money as well. “We worked with the Association for the Education of Young Children and Bust-A-Move Beavers to raise even more money,” she said, “and from our collaboration efforts, we reached our goal and ended up buying more food than we had originally budgeted for.”
Morgan Leso, Mallett’s guidance counselor who worked with Jenkins to make a final decision on the number of families in need, is grateful for the support ALD annually provides in trying to combat student and family hunger, an effort that Mallett School itself works on year round.
“Within the past several years, Mallett has opened a food pantry, which is funded through grant money and is open once a month,” said Leso. “However, around the holidays and the winter season, the need for more food rises, and we look for any outside donations we can get, which is what makes ALD’s donations in the form of complete Thanksgiving meals more helpful than ever.”
Tremblay, Jenkins and other ALD members bought the food at Walmart and Hannaford the week of Thanksgiving and dropped the baskets off directly at Mallett School, making it possible for families to pick them up or have the food brought to them by Leso. “There are some families who lack transportation to pick up the meals at the school, and in those cases, I just drop the baskets off at their homes to make sure they can still enjoy a meal with their loved ones,” said Leso. “A lack of transportation or food does not mean people should be denied an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.”