A Freshman Tutorial Thanksgiving in England

Patrick Bryant ’16 – Happy Thanksgiving from the homeland of its co-founders.  I say this not to compare us to “The Pilgrims,” but many of us are pilgrims of sorts, going abroad for the first time.  Unlike the pilgrims, we’re not here for the sake of religious freedom or to escape oppression, rather to learn and explore to the extent that the literature of our course could not teach us.

We left Sheffield after three days staying there as our home base and today we arrived in Grantham.  Here, we are staying close to the Harlaxton College where we had the privilege of spending Thanksgiving dinner there.  A huge manor house owned by a bachelor (must’ve been a Wabash man), it is now a college used for students studying abroad.  It’s currently owned by the University of Evansville, a neighbor of Wabash to the south.  One of our preceptors from this trip will be studying there next semester, and one Wabash man is studying there now.

Thanksgiving is one of those rare days where one can take a moment to reflect and rest in time to visit with others.  Being on this trip and having so many opportunities here at Wabash in my few months has made me often talk about how “grateful I am.”  I say the words and I truly do have those feelings, but I appreciate (there I go saying I’m grateful again) days like today when by action, actions of reflection, kindness and fellowship with friends, that I make the attempt to express my own gratitude.

The pilgrims took a new found friendship they had made with Native Americans and used that as a reason to make an effort to give thanks.  The families of Britain’s industrial era didn’t formally celebrate the American Thanksgiving that we do, but they played a part in it.  They played a part in it because the very things I am thankful for today, the materials that give me shelter, that clothe me, and that in general make my everyday life easier came as a result of these working families spending 12 hours per day, 6 days per week toiling away in the factories that made the primitive versions of the materials that built my house, the primitive versions of my clothes, and so on.  Unfortunately, many of the things I take for granted today, are things those families couldn’t even have dreamt about.  We talk about martyrs in the sense of first century sainthood-bound heroes who gave their lives in the name of religion, but here we have martyrs who hailed from northern England in the 19th century.  They didn’t freely give their lives, yet they did  things for the sake of their families that many of us would not and could not ever consider doing.  Seeing those places, hearing the stories, I now realize that – this trip has taught me that.

Mr. Schroeder, on this day of thanks, let me express my personal thanks and the thanks of my classmates for a trip that so early in our lives is already one that is “once in a lifetime.”  Professor Widdows, thank you for your kindness, your guidance, and for sharing the passion that we do for the stories of this time.  And I’m going to be selfish here, but I also want to give my thanks for my family: my parents and little sister, Allison.

Please stay tuned for some stories about our last few days that my classmates will be sharing with you.  We wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving.

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