A Home for the Holiday

November/December 2002

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A Home for the Holiday

Courtesy Jason Anderson

It’s been more than a quarter-century since John Bravman was a freshman at Stanford. But he hasn’t forgotten what it was like spending Thanksgiving on campus, far away from his family.

“I was from New York, and it was too far to travel home,” recalls Bravman, ’79, MS ’81, PhD ’85. “That first holiday was really hard.”

Motivated by that memory, Bravman has seen to it that the colonists in Freshman/ Sophomore College have a feast worthy of the pilgrims. Every year since FroSoCo opened in 1999, Bravman, dean of the college and vice provost for undergraduate education, has hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at his home on Santa Teresa Lane, only steps from Sterling Quad, where the students live. Last year, he entertained 54 students.

Bravman prepares all of the food himself. Even the cranberry sauce is homemade.

A couple of days before the holiday, he goes shopping. A partial grocery list: 20 bags of cranberries, 30 pounds of sweet potatoes, a 15-pound ham, two giant roasting turkeys, six cases of sparkling cider. On Thanksgiving, he rises at about 4 a.m. to begin cooking. In addition to the potatoes, the stuffing and other fixings, he will make and bake 10 pies (Dutch apple and pumpkin). “Must have a lot of pie,” he says.

The students eat at about 4 in the afternoon, and linger long after dark. By the time Bravman finishes cleanup, it is early Friday morning.

Increasingly, FroSoCo students ask to bring along friends from other dorms who are staying on campus for the holiday. The answer, says Bravman, is always yes. He admits, though, that space is getting tight. “I figure I can seat about 60,” he says. “Last year I put 22 kids out on the porch, 12 in the dining room and the rest in the living room.”

Then, after a pause, he adds: “I suppose I could squeeze a few more into the kitchen.”

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