In the midst of an incredibly hectic week at work, I glimpsed at my Google Calendar and realized my weekend was booked solid. As if the upcoming family holiday did not have me on a tight enough schedule, I had somehow overlooked the fact that I was invited to three separate “friendsgiving” celebrations in the same week. Not only was I invited, but I also absentmindedly committed to bringing completely different side dishes to each party. As I began to silently freak out over when I was going to possibly have time to cook everything, it hit me. Where did this idea of “friendsgiving” even come from? Did the concept appear along with the millennial generation entering adulthood? Is it just an excuse to hang out and drink like every weekend is? Did other generations participate in this? Were these formerly just considered “dinner parties”? Do we have to have a cutesy name for everything?
Thanksgiving has always been a busy time in my household. Typically, my Italian relatives come into town, take over my house, put me out of my room and harass me for not being married. It ends up being a ton of fun and some of my best memories growing up are from holidays past, but it is definitely a crazy time for my parents and myself. The idea of hosting a bunch of my closest friends on top of my relatives sounds less than attractive to me. So why is this exactly what three of my friends are doing?
I gave it some thought, asked around and found my answers. While the food is the same (eating turkey four times is already making me feel full), “friendsgiving” is a completely different type of holiday. Not necessarily better or worse. Just different. Here’s how:
1. Attendance is Voluntary
Thanksgiving brings families together to give thanks for the great things in their lives. People travel far and wide to be together, and even celebrate multiple times in order to see both sides of the family. It’s a great time and it is always nice to see your loved ones, but at the end of the day it’s expected. You are expected to spend the holiday with your family. It is what everyone does on Thanksgiving Day, and not participating leaves you completely alone. “Friendsgiving” is different. It is typically held days before the national holiday, and normal hangouts like bars and restaurants are open as usual. We are forgoing our day to day lives or typical weekend plans to eat turkey and stuffing with a group of friends. We are making memories and bonding on our own time, not on a day designated for memories. Does that make it more special than Thanksgiving Day? I wouldn’t say so. It is not taking away from the great things Thanksgiving brings us. It is just a simple way to have fun that we don’t take advantage of very often.
2. It Makes You Feel Like You Have Everything Together
“Friendsgiving” feels very adult. It is an accomplishment for the host to put together a meal for 10 – 20 without the help of a seasoned chef. Guests feel accomplished by mastering a Pinterest side dish (guilty), or by bringing over a bottle of wine that costs more than $5.99. No one has it together in their 20s. There are plenty of things we are still learning and mastering, which is part of the fun. But for a night, when all of your friends are eating a homemade meal in your living room that may or may not still have a futon in it, it might feel like you have life under control.
3. No One Asks Intrusive Questions
It’s the part of the holidays I dread the most. The questions from relatives about your life direction that make you feel like you are failing. No, I’m not married yet. No, I don’t want to switch my major to business management.
Yes, I realize that my cousin is doing very well in that field. It’s overwhelming to say the least, and those examples are tame compared to some of the other things I have been asked. But guess who in your life loves you despite your poor career choice/ single status? Your best friends. At Friendsgiving, you don’t need to drink heavily to cope with intrusion. You drink heavily because you want to and can crash on the couch if you need to.
4. It’s an excuse to not order take-out/ make ramen noodles
Not everyone cooks. I personally have gotten better about this, but in my college years I lived off of grilled cheese, hot pockets and take out. For anyone else who’s diet consists of similar things, why not get a fancy, free meal made with love?
5. It makes you realize that you have friends that feel like family
I am so lucky to have the friends that I have. They are really more like sisters and brothers to me at this point. Even though we have ups and downs individually and as a group, they are still the people I call when I have good news, bad news or just want to chat. These are the people I am beyond thankful for in life. That might be the true meaning of “friendsgiving”.
6. No one gets drunk and takes their clothes off in your hallway
Or is that one just my family?