The legacy of the first (Holy Family) Thanksgiving


Since Holy Family’s inception, one of the most important aspects of our school has been the emphasis on family. As part of this emphasis, an important tradition has been teachers serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal to the student body.

The tradition of serving Thanksgiving meals to students has been around for years. On Tuesday, the school held its 18th Thanksgiving meal to remind students and faculty the important role that family plays in our community. What many of us don’t know is that behind this tradition of doing something as simple as serving a meal, lies a bigger message for those both serving and receiving.

The first class at Holy Family set many standards for the generations to come. The school community knew that they should set a strong foundation that emphasized many of the values that Holy Family holds today.

A student involved in Student Council at the time had the idea that the school should serve a Thanksgiving meal prior to the break. Excited about this unique idea, supervisor of Student Council Mr. Walker approached Mrs. Brown about the idea. In November that year, Holy Family served their first Thanksgiving meal.

The same concept followed ever since and throughout the years, it has been a Holy Family tradition that teachers serve students. This tradition also proved to have some difficulties both with cooking the meals and organizing the event. Carol, a cafeteria staff member since the school’s inception, addressed the issue: “It was very difficult. It was only a few of us, mostly parents, and the President’s daughter at the time was heavily involved. We didn’t even have a small stove to use. It was very challenging at the time, but we knew that we could handle it and be able to make it special for the kids.”

One year the school skipped the meal due to financial issues. “Right now, it costs us a little over $3000 to do it. We dropped it for a year, but then the teachers petitioned to bring it back. They genuinely enjoyed serving the kids and making it special for everyone,” said Mrs. Brown.

The food items of the Thanksgiving meal have stayed the same, but different approaches have been taken over the years. Mrs. Brown explained the process of organizing the event: “We had to order food from major distributors and did as much as using those orders and cooking them in the oven. Products were usually frozen or pre-made for easy serving.”

Each plate included turkey as the entree followed by dinner rolls, corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing to as sides, and milk and water for available drinks. The only consistent changes to the meal have been the types of desserts ranging from apple pies, ice cream variations, pumpkin delicacies, to even crisps and fritters.

Mrs. Brown explained that “The tradition grew organically. It wasn’t like ‘we have this great idea you guys should listen to this’, it happened and grew right out of the ground – right out of the student body.”

When asked about his first Thanksgiving experience, new President Michael Brennan had this to say: “I’ll put it in one word: Beautiful. The tradition is a witness to the way that faculty and staff embrace what they do. They embrace it like a vocation and truly see it for what it is which is to serve. Who better to serve but the students? They want to be here and serve you.”

President Brennan continued, “You may not know it right now, but they love you. They will miss the students who are leaving. They love doing this for you guys. Trust me.”

Mrs. Brown concluded by saying, “We are grateful for the students, we are grateful for the staff members, we are grateful for the community, and that’s why we serve a Thanksgiving meal and end the day a little early.”

So, in the future, let’s not look at this tradition simply as a time of food and socializing, but truly realize that there is so much to be thankful for. Be thankful for the house you go home to every day, for friends and family that are here to support you, for the opportunity to go to a religious and educational institution like Holy Family, to be thankful that you are alive to experience these moments. They are truly special to those who are both giving and receiving.