In a typical November, students line up outside Gettysburg College’s main dining area, affectionately called Servo, awaiting one of our most beloved community traditions: Servo Thanksgiving.
The dinner extravaganza is loved by students, faculty and staff, and has been one of my personal favorite Gettysburg traditions which I have always looked forward to year after year. Being a student athlete, I have also been blessed to have been able to share this tradition with my team.
But this year—my senior year—due to challenges presented by COVID that our community has faced, Servo Thanksgiving looked a little different than it did in my previous three years here at Gettysburg College.
This past November, Servo was relatively quiet on Thanksgiving, offering a much lighter spread for a small number of students that remained on campus, and I worried that I may not have the opportunity to enjoy this tradition to its full extent one last time.
But it was with great joy that I heard that on Tuesday April 13th, while following safe guidelines, Servo would be serving up their famous Thanksgiving meal once again!
A tradition reimagined
Some of my favorite memories at Gettysburg were made at Servo Thanksgiving. I’ll never forget waiting outside in the cold November weather in anticipation, drinking hot chocolate and listening to music with my teammates. It was definitely a different experience walking into Servo for my Thanksgiving meal in the warm spring weather!
The experience was different in other ways, too. Large groups were not allowed to sit closely, but Servo set up tables with plexiglass screens that were socially-distanced, so I could still enjoy the meal with my friends. They even provided take-out bags filled with pie and other desserts.
But much of the experience remained the same. Yesterday’s menu included Servo’s famous turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and many of the same fan favorites.
The lines outside of Servo were nearly as long as they would be when Servo Thanksgiving is in full effect; there was still the same smiling staff welcoming you right when you walked through the doors; and faculty still walked around Servo helping everyone get their meals. The dining staff paid close attention to detail, continuing the tradition of using Thanksgiving place mats and utensils wrapped in fall colors, to provide a warm, fall Thanksgiving atmosphere.
It was such a heartwarming experience to be surrounded by fellow students enjoying my final Servo Thanksgiving meal, and to see the Gettysburg community continue to come together for this special tradition, even with the challenging times around us.
As I look back on my time at Gettysburg, I am so grateful to have been able to experience Servo Thanksgiving all four years, even though this year’s was a little bit different. But, what did not change were the sense of community, and the gratitude I have for Gettysburg College. Being able to still be with my Gettysburg community, enjoying this tradition with my friends one last time, is something that I am very grateful for during my final semester.
Servo Thanksgiving has long been, and this year continued to be, a picture perfect example of the community atmosphere here at Gettysburg, which I am so grateful to have been a part of, and will take with me when I graduate next month.
By Isabel Miller ’21
Photos by Shawna Sherrell and courtesy of Isabel Miller