Dead Day Dinner

Reported by Romare Ashford (Guest Submission)

It’s finally week fourteen. At this point in your academic career, you can barely hold on. Projects, essay and meetings are piling up as your overall health deteriorates. One of the last lights to hold onto is the fact that after you finish finals winter break is here. You need a break now.

Dead Day Dinner all started when Jesse was a freshman at George Fox University (GFU). Now Jesse Cetz is a senior getting ready to graduate. Jesse smiles, thinking back to the first Dead Day dinner. Jesse and Ed are the best of friends and still are to this day.

“Ed was like my mentor but it wasn’t an official title. That’s my guy,” Jesse said.

Ed and Jesse were bored out on Dead Day so the boys decided to invite a few friends over and make some food. Ed and Jesse headed to Winco to make a favorite dish, ceviche. Ceviche is a seafood dish made with seafood, chili, lemon, onion, and cilantro. With tortilla chips, you can use ceviche as a dip. Together the first Dead Day Dinner was small, only 15 people, setting the tone for Dead Day Dinners to come. At the first one, they ran out of food quickly and had to better prepare for next time. When the next semester rolled around, the boys had to redefine the process. Ceviche was too expensive and didn’t feed enough people.  From Jesse’s first college semester to the second semester, the Dead Day Dinner increased to 30 people.

“That year it started to pick up, we would make a Facebook Messenger group chat with all the people we knew to know how much food to make. That year a friend drove all the way down to Newberg for the dinners” Jesse said.

Jesse and Ed welcomed my friends and I into their Dead Day tradition. By this time, they were on their third Dead Day Dinner. We all came together at Ed’s house, Herbert. We made multiple stores runs to get groceries at Winco and Fred Meyer.  Groups of us cleaned the house and kitchen to prepare food. We made enchiladas, ceviche, baked goods and spam with musubi. Spam with musubi is a great Hawaiian dish with cooked rice and spam wrapped. We all worked together to get the job done. A few of us gathered around and began to rip the chicken into pieces for enchiladas. One group rolled chicken with tortillas while another person made the sauce. Then we began to layer the enchiladas with cheese. Then as we let those bake in the oven, we switched our effort to ceviche.

“So we've been having and we've kept having them. It’s something that has been really special because… it was a tradition that we created out of nowhere,” said Jesse.

Now in our third Dead Day Dinner that passed, our group invited faculty into the tradition like Jenny Elsey, Bryce Caulfield, Grant Burns, and Min Choi.

“Jenny showed up when we invited her and since then she's been praying for like every Dead Day Dinner since. Gracelynn, David, Jess, and Vanessa come the day before the meal to the house and blast music super loud, clean the kitchen, and get all the stuff prepared to start making the food. It was like a really good atmosphere, ” said Jesse.

Jesse hopes once he graduates, the next upperclassmen in line continue the tradition. After about eight Dead Day Dinners, Jesse has spent roughly $1,000.

“Every penny was worth it,” said Jesse.

Only in the last two dinners, our group has started using the Community Life Fund.  The Community Life Fund allows students to host events on and off-campus to build a better community with a student at George Fox. This fund reimburses students after they spend money on fun events with their friends. This has made our Dead Day Dinner much more affordable because we don’t have to pay out of pocket.

Food is not the not the only main event on Dead Day Dinner. Brian Preap has been organizing the Secret Santa Gift Exchange. Brian Preap is a brave student, who decided he wanted to organize all our friends to conduct the Secret Santa Gift Exchange. Elfster does all the work, having the patience to organize anything with this many people deserves an award.

“It's almost Christmas season you know. I feel like white elephants just contribute more to the community we attempt to build during the dinner,” said Brian. Brian loves this exchange because it shows how much we know each other. Every year you see practical, gag, and just plain strange gifts from the gift exchange. The Secret Santa Gift Exchange is perfect for giving everyone the opportunity to relax before the stressful finals week.

In a matter of hours Jesse and Ed orchestrated a bunch of college students to work together in the most fun “group project” they would have. We got student and faculty of different major, grade level, religions, and backgrounds to just enjoy each other during the most stressful time of the year.