Not everyone goes “home” for Thanksgiving, whether it be for logistical, financial, emotional, or other reasons.
More and more, people are acknowledging that “home” is a choice and “family” means different things to different people. Even those that do spend some of all of Thanksgiving with blood relatives seek other relationships with whom to celebrate during the holiday season.
Making the most of “Friendsgiving”
Non-family focused Thanksgiving gatherings — Friendsgivings — have received more notice of late and with good reason.
While family dinner table squabbles are the stuff of holiday legend and more than a few dread Uncle Boris’ political rants over pie, Friendsgivings have a decidedly different feel: everyone is there because of active inclusion. And that feels good.
Though the moniker “Friendsgiving” is more recent, college students and young urbanites in particular have been having friends-based Thanksgiving meals for years. Whether before or after the actual holiday, or on the day itself, Friendsgiving is an opportunity enjoy a meal in a lower stress environment, and to learn about other cultures and make new traditions. In a twist on the traditional, we can look to the younger generations for ways to enhance our celebrations to encompass a greater understanding of community and thankfulness.
Organizing a Friendsgiving
It doesn’t take a party planner to create a great Friendsgiving. It takes choosing a time and a date and an openness to what each participant — literally and figuratively — will bring to the table. Even at thelast minute, there are plenty of opportunities to say, “My place at six. Bring a whatever you want.”
Of course you can be more organized than that. You are more than welcome to channel your inner Martha Stewart! But you don’t have to. Just ask people you’d like to share a meal with if they are available and mash it all together. This is not a time to be constrained by formalities: this is about fun.
Including different traditions
What can be the most fun for a Friendsgiving is asking everyone to bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish. Who cares if you end up will all side dishes!
Friendsgivings are also a wonderful way to introduce immigrants to American culture. Even they can contribute dishes: just have them bring a favorite dish they would bring to a family gathering. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a bottle of vodka and pickled beets and caviar on your table from one set of friends while others bring empanadas and still others bring pad thai.
A whole meal? Or not.
A Friendsgiving doesn’t have to be the whole meal. You can make it a dessert event – or even a leftovers event for those that made it through an actual family dinner and are now in recovery from it because Uncle Boris was true to expected form.
Celebrations with a tinge of sadness
Even at the happiest of Friendsgivings, an edge of sad can creep in. Pals with difficult family relationships, or who really wish they were home for the day might have a quiet moment or two amid the frivolity. That’s okay. One of the best things about Friendsgiving is acceptance of everyone who and as they are.
While advertising for Thanksgiving focuses on traditional family units, those who practice Friendsgiving know that it’s so much more than that. This most American of holidays is about thankfulness in all its forms and friends are our chosen connections for which so many of us are extremely thankful.