The Thanksgiving Balance

Over the last three years of law school, Thanksgiving has been much different than years prior. However, despite the stress and pressure at this time of law school, Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday. Food. Football. Beer. Political conversations that you hopefully can avoid. It’s my personal favorite holiday and remains to be despite the law school calendar working against us.

The Thanksgiving holiday traditionally coincides with the busiest time of the year for law students. This leaves law students, especially in their critical first year, with a decision about whether to travel and go home for the holiday and then, how much time to spend at home and away from preparing for finals. This can be a difficult decision especially given the unknown of first semester finals and how much time is actually necessary to prepare for finals.

I made the choice during my first year of law school that I wouldn’t allow school to come between spending my personal favorite holiday with family and friends. So, I decided in my first year that I would spend the majority of Wednesday night through Friday away from studying and study when I can over this two and a half day stretch. This would still give me a full weekend on Saturday and Sunday to do school work. The timing of Thanksgiving provides a necessary couple day break that allows you to press reset after working on outlines for much of the prior three weeks and feel fresh moving forward.

I was fortune enough that my family was close by in Fall River, Massachusetts and my girlfriend’s family was in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I was also able to see both families each of these past three years.  Understandably, this is not the case for all law students so each student has to realize the costs and benefits of their travel plans, which are largely unknown. But for the first two years of law school, I found that taking the day before and the day after Thanksgiving off of school was ultimately helpful for me.

While this worked for me, it’s not a sure thing that it will work for everyone. This may depend on how well you can study back home surrounded by family or at which point you started preparing for finals. Needless to say, each law student needs to make their decision as to what they feel comfortable with. For me personally, I was comfortable taking a couple days off to spend with family and recharge the batteries. Now, as a 3L, I am fortunate enough to be able to afford to take an additional day off to relax and spend time with friends and family.

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