Thanksgiving 101

By Mandy Lee (Follow us on LinkedIn)

Where do you work? The attorney smiled. 

I’m a law librarian. I don’t practice.

Wait. What?

I’m a lawyer, & a librarian. I work in a law library.

So you practice law AND work in a library?

I work at a law school. I don’t practice law. My response is somewhere between apologetic & explanatory. 

The exchange took place at a fundraiser for a legal aid organization earlier this year.

Why do I have to feel apologetic? I may have less status and make less money than the majority of my practicing counterparts. However, I likely enjoy a better quality of life than many, and I’m wealthy in other ways. 

For example, the weekend before Thanksgiving, some friends and I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for 38 people, almost all of whom were LLM students, attorneys from foreign countries studying law in the U.S., celebrating their first Thanksgiving. We represented 15 countries.

Full group of international students posing for a picture with the author, Mandy Lee in front of Thanksgiving food
Photo taken by author

For almost two months, I planned. Thanksgiving for the LLM students became my full-time hobby outside of work.

The students were excited about it. Some dropped into my office prior to the event to express their gratitude & eager anticipation. I didn’t want to let them down. This was going to be the greatest – albeit the first – Thanksgiving they had ever experienced.

A Professor gave a five-minute American Football 101 presentation, after which we asked one of the children to distribute mini stress-relief footballs. As for “traditional” Thanksgiving foods, the stuffing was a hit. The turkey, Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce proved popular as well. Pies, cakes, and ice cream from an Ohio company boasting a 150-year history and specialized flavors such as pumpkin and Buckeye, filled the desert table. A handful of students had fun assembling the cardstock turkeys and writing things for which they were thankful, such as family, on the colorful feathers.

Before one of the guests left the party, she informed me that, even though she & her family had been in the U.S. for Thanksgiving last year, they had stayed home and eaten their usual (Macedonian) foods. So, she and her family really appreciated our event.

Another said that it was his fourth Thanksgiving, but his first time eating Thanksgiving food

During the next week, one student emailed: Thank you again for organizing this Thanksgiving, it was an amazing night and a great way to learn about American culture.

I am indeed thankful that I’m wealthy in so many ways.

Practical Tips:

  • Recruit students to help set up and to help clean afterwards. Create a schedule and assign tasks and time slots.
  • Recruit a turkey carver, if possible/necessary. 
  • Send out a sign-up sheet for specific items, such as non-alcoholic beverages. Most guests brought either alcohol or dessert. 



Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.