A St Andrews Thanksgiving, brought to you by Skype – and Mom

By Katherine McWilliams, fourth-year student studying International Relations and Management

After three enjoyable years at St Andrews that have gone by far too quickly, I find myself nostalgically facing my last Thanksgiving here. This year I look forward to letting other people shoulder most of the work, and to relaxing now that I’ve really got the hang of the whole operation. However, I can honestly admit that this is the product of three years of honing my Thanksgiving skills thanks to help from my mom.

When I came to St Andrews, I considered myself to be above-average in the cooking department (as college students go). However my skills were really put to the test when I decided to host Thanksgiving for 25 of my friends in first year. I thought I might as well start off with a bang and really go for it, if I wasn’t going to be at home! I rallied the troops, assigned people their dishes and filled our flat’s fridge and that of the boy downstairs with ingredients. The day was going to be slightly skewed towards British and European attendees over Americans but they were twice as eager to celebrate their first Thanksgiving. I was really excited to throw a good holiday – and nervous to pull off something I had never done before.

I quickly realized that the limited help I’d provided my mom in the past – stirring cider and whipping sweet potatoes – was not as much preparation as I’d thought!

On Thanksgiving morning, my mom got up extremely early to Skype with me so that we could prepare our turkeys together and so she could talk me through cooking Thanksgiving. With her in her kitchen and me in mine, both in PJs and armed with strong coffee, we set to work doing prep and chatting away. As questions flooded in via text from my English friends attempting recipes for the first time, my mom helpfully dictated responses as she talked me through my own work.

I could tell you that my first solo Thanksgiving wound up a perfect success, but it did not. I probably should have stuck to either Mom’s directions or Martha Stewart’s – rather than a hybrid of the two, and I managed to make gravy with a consistency like silly putty. But as one of my American friends reminded me, “Dried-out turkey is practically a part of the tradition!” An unassuming freshman boy turned out to be a secret ham-cooking savant, there were pies from Fisher & Donaldson and not everything I cooked went wrong so we ultimately had a fantastic meal and a great night. My friends from the UK left energized for the next year and I felt enormous relief for having pulled the whole thing off. And it has only gotten better with practice. Not a single Thanksgiving in St Andrews has been homesick or sad; they are times I will look back on fondly as bonding with my mom and sharing a piece of home with all my closest friends.

This year we’re going big – 45 people are planning to come. Mom!!!!!!!!

Study abroad plays an important role in allowing students to experience different learning environments and discover new academic passions.  It also has benefits for personal development, life skills and employability.  The “St Andrews Students Abroad” Scholarships will help us remove financial barriers and enable a wider group of students to study at a growing number of partner universities around the world.  Your support can help students learn to live in their global community; learn more at our website.


3 thoughts on “A St Andrews Thanksgiving, brought to you by Skype – and Mom

  1. Susan Seaborne says:

    Hi – this reminded me of my first year at St Andrews which was in 1986 ( so before you were born! ). My American friend Louise from New Hampshire invited me to a Thanksgiving dinner in the Younger Hall. All the American students took part and brought dishes. My friend’s family came over for it and it was a truly lovely occasion.

  2. Carol says:

    My daughter is in her first year there and is trying Thanksgiving for 11 this year and she dosen’t cook. She has two boxes of Stove Top stuffing and is hoping for the best with what she finds at the store. It’s going to be loaves and fishes time, she is a Divinity major. Let’s pray!

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