There won’t be a test on this, but there will be some knowledge shared by some pretty smart people: Linfield College faculty. A few professors chimed in to share Thanksgiving-related insights, tips and stories from their fields of expertise.
Don’t be a turkey
Susan Currie Sivek, associate professor of mass communication
Facebook is full of turkeys — on Thanksgiving, that is. What did you think I meant? Don’t be yet another turkey in the Thanksgiving news feed. Instead, try one of these ideas for an eye-catching holiday post.
- Try recreating a classic Thanksgiving photo from your past, using similar poses and even clothing. Take a photo of the original image, and place the past and present photos side-by-side with a collage app like Layout (iOS or Android). Your family and friends will enjoy seeing a holiday blast from the past, and will chuckle at seeing the kids’ table now surrounded by adults.
- Another possibility is to produce an instant Thanksgiving family history video. Use an app like iMovie (iOS) or Magisto (Android) to record a series of clips. Ask your guests young and old to share favorite holiday stories, foods, sports memories and more. No fancy editing is required; just record one clip after the other right into the app. (Hold your phone steady and shoot horizontally for best results.) Post the finished video to your favorite social media site. You’ll be delighted when this one pops up annually in your feed to savor again — a treat among all those turkeys.
Practice an “attitude of gratitude”
Tanya Tompkins, professor of psychology
In our ever-increasing digital world we are chronically exposed to filtered photos and sanitized status updates. When we compare ourselves and our own lives we may experience envy, low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction and heightened feelings of anxiety and depression. Practicing and sharing gratitude can be a powerful force for building resilience in ourselves and others. Did you know that practicing an “attitude of gratitude” can reduce stress, anxiety and depression (O’Leary & Dockray, 2015; Wood et al., 2008), increase self-esteem and life-satisfaction (Rash et al., 2011), and improve the quality of your relationships (Lambert & Fincham, 2011)? So as you “give thanks” for a shared meal in the company of family and friends this coming week consider establishing a daily gratitude practice to carry you through finals week.
Put those Thanksgiving dinner ingredients to work
G.F. “Cisco” Reyes, associate professor of health, human performance and athletics
Make time for a structured exercise session without going to a gym, by creating a short circuit that takes 10–15 minutes at home. Make sure it’s intense by performing as many reps as you can within the time frame. Do the exercise as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then rest for one minute, and repeat. Go through the entire circuit two or three times. Here’s an example:
- Stove Top Stuffing Shuffle: While holding an empty metal bowl and a wooden spoon, shuffle back and forth in the kitchen as many times as you can in 30 seconds, all while pretending to mix ingredients to make the stuffing.
- Pumpkin Pie Push-Ups: Go the bottom of a set of stairs and place your hands on the third or fifth step and assume a push-up position. Keeping your back straight, do as many push-ups as you can in 30 seconds.
- Gobble-Gobble Lunges: Hold a large can of food underneath your chin with both hands. Keeping the can in position and your chest up, step out with one foot and lunge down, step back and repeat.
- Mashed Potato Punches: Hold a can of food in each hand. Assume a stable and athletic stance. Start punching your hands out in front of you while holding the cans. Do as many punches as you can in 30 seconds.
- Sweet Potato Stair Runs: Hold one raw sweet potato in each hand. Stand next to the lowest step in a set of stairs. Place one foot on top of the step and the other on the ground. Quickly alternate your feet on top of the step, much like you’re running in place.
We’ll be thankful for good wine — when it’s ready
Gregory V. Jones, director of the Center for Wine Education
With the holidays fast approaching, the finishing touches on the 2017 vintage are occurring in Oregon wineries. White wines have completed fermentation, with most moving into their tanks for a period of settling while others are ready to be bottled. Red wines have either finished fermentation or are very close to it and will proceed to pressing, then to barrel for aging for the next 6–12 months or more. Producers in Oregon are very happy with the 2017 vintage, with yields higher than average and what appears to be very good quality wines.
Giving thanks by being kind
Lee Bakner, professor of psychology
Perhaps one way to approach thanks from a biological psychology (behavioral neuroscience) perspective is through acts of kindness and giving that may drive our naturally occurring reward systems. It’s very common to see serotonin themes pop up in the media because turkey contains somewhat higher than usual levels of tryptophan, the rate-limiting chemical in the production of serotonin. It’s always been unclear to me whether it’s the gluttony or serotonin making people sleepy. What might be more clear is the relationship between acts of kindness and activity increases in brain reward systems involving dopamine (aka, the “want” system) and endogenous opiates (aka, the “like” systems). Too often our society focuses on less than adaptive and unnatural ways of driving these systems with pharmaceutical agents. However, these very same systems may be activated, albeit to a lesser degree, when we are motivated to help others. I’m sure empathy and helping are the product of more elaborate cognitive systems but perhaps the midbrain ventral tegmental communications with the nucleus accumbens form part of the core system of motivated “thanks” giving where the give receives, too.
A feast story not for the faint of heart
Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, Ronni Lacroute chair in Shakespeare studies
For Thanksgiving this year, my family is responsible for bringing the pies, which puts me in mind of the most gruesome feast in Shakespeare’s plays. At the end of his early tragedy Titus Andronicus, the titular Roman general takes peculiar revenge on his enemy’s sons, who have horribly raped and dismembered his daughter. At a state banquet, Titus dresses as a cook to denounce the young men to their mother, and when the sons are summoned to the feast, Titus replies:
Why, there they are both, baked in that pie,
Whereof their mother daintily hath fed,
Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred.
In this scene of butchery and cannibalism, Shakespeare is one-upping his source material, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a collection of Roman myths that he would have read as a schoolboy. In Ovid’s account, young Philomel is raped by her brother-in-law, who cuts out her tongue; Philomel then relates her suffering to her sister Procne by weaving her story into a tapestry, and Procne enacts revenge by baking the rapist’s son into a pie and serving it to him. In Shakespeare’s play, Titus’s daughter, who has had her hands cut off in addition to her tongue, uses the stumps of her arms to open Ovid’s Metamorphoses to the story of Philomel and Procne, thereby revealing her plight to her father, who vows vengeance on her abusers:
For worse than Philomel you used my daughter,
And worse than Procne I will be revenged.
This cycle of violence and revenge encompasses cultural history as well as family feuds, as male authors compete to serve up violated female bodies for mass consumption. Game of Thrones fans might remember the episode where Arya Stark avenges her family’s slaughter in the Red Wedding by baking Walder Frey’s sons into a pie and serving it to him in disguise, with an echo of Titus’s dialogue (“Where are my damn moron sons?” “They’re here, my lord”), before slitting his throat. Revenge tragedy remains a genre as popular in our day as it was in Shakespeare’s; it is a dish best served cold.