UB students discuss unique Thanksgiving Day traditions
For many college students, Thanksgiving Day is a time to go home and load meal-plan-filled stomachs with a home-cooked turkey meal.
But some UB students partake in other traditions beyond the turkey plate. Whether they use the holiday as a screening process for future girlfriends, to play a made-up sport or to fight over the wishbone - many students' families have their own quirky way to celebrate the holiday and remember what they're thankful for each year.
"Thanksgiving tends to be when my brothers and I bring home potential girlfriends," said Marc Jabaji, a senior health and human services major.
Turkey Day serves as a "trial period" in Jabaji's family for prospective girlfriends. If his brothers happen to approve of the girl, then she is welcomed into the family and it is "safe to proceed with the relationship," Jabaji explained.
Jabaji's immediate family, aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends gather to partake in the judging. The family members also bring their own dish to share and, after the meal, spend the evening sitting around a fire, relaxing and talking.
Jabaji said he is thankful for the growth he has seen in himself over the last year.
"I have grown emotionally and spiritually," Jabaji said. "It's enabled me to be a better human being toward everyone."
Dylan Ekes-Erckert, a sophomore geology major, expects about 40 family members to flock to his house for his family's Thanksgiving celebration.
Ekes-Erckert plans to spend his holiday eating copious amounts of food and playing games. His family's most popular game is "Turkey Ball."
"Nobody actually knows what Turkey Ball is," Ekes-Erckert said.
The game involves throwing and kicking a ball at a single goalie, which continues until someone finally scores.
"There is no purpose to it at all," he said.
But it is his family's offbeat tradition. He enjoys spending time with his relatives, though the holiday requires a thorough clean up the next day, especially because of his messy distant cousins.
"We take four to five tables and line them [up] through the house," Ekes-Erckert said. "Then [we] put kids at a separate table in the kitchen."
This Thanksgiving, Ekes-Erckert is thankful for the self-improvement in his life. His social skills weren't very strong his freshman year, but he has been breaking out of his shell and has made a lot of new friends.
Robert Slaughter, a junior business administration major, spends the day with his brother and uncle. They devote the day to eating, sleeping and watching football. Though it may not be the most conventional Thanksgiving Day dish, his favorite plate is his brother's mac and cheese.
Slaughter's weirdest Thanksgiving tradition, he said, involves the use of a wishbone from his family's turkey.
"You find the wishbone and two people pull on opposite ends both making a wish," Slaughter said.
The person who breaks off the bigger piece will have their wish come true, he explained.
Slaughter is thankful for his small but "one of a kind" family.
Though Jabaji, Slaughter and Ekes-Erckert's traditions may be different, the purpose of Thanksgiving seems to remain the same: Spending time with family and reflecting on what they have to be grateful for.