So, Friendsgiving Is A Thing

Kay Steiger explains that she and her pals inaugurated a tradition of non-family get-togethers “because we all thought we could make better versions of Thanksgiving food and it’s more fun to get drunk with your friends anyway”:

[F]or all the cleverer recipes and the fancier food, what actually matters is getting everyone together for another year – which was the point of the family Thanksgivings we all either couldn’t or didn’t want to go back to our hometowns for. We aren’t related by blood, but we’re still a family.

The idea of Friendsgiving isn’t particularly unique to us, but it is quietly radical in its way …. The conservative view is that your second family starts with a marriage between one man and one woman, preferably long before the ages we all our now – and, until then, your original family Thanksgiving should take top priority. But creating – and celebrating – families with the people you like rather than the people you might feel stuck with provides a lot of people more reason to give thanks.

But not everyone is so Friendsgiving-friendly. Foster Kamer insists it’s “the ne plus ultra of dumb, idiotic, made-up, fake holidays created exclusively for the most middlebrow human beings intent on perpetuating middlebrow, capital-b Basic culture”:

[T]his is where Friendsgiving is supremely annoying: The core idea here is the implication that, as opposed to Friendsgiving, a regular Thanksgiving must be spent with family, and not friends; should be stogy at best; and if not boring, then at least tense and uncomfortable. Friendsgiving hinges on the idea that Thanksgiving is mediocre.

I resent that implication. I resent the idea that I should have two meals, because one of them just isn’t supposed to be fun. Why else would you need an ostensibly unconventional, wacky and neat alternative?

Melia Robinson differs, reflecting fondly on the Friendsgiving she held last year:

Friendsgiving isn’t perfect. There were hiccups. One roommate scratched her eye after slicing an onion and experienced such searing pain, we thought we were going to have to take her to the hospital. (She’s fine now.) We kept realizing we forgot to pick up needed ingredients; so by the second unplanned trip to the grocery store, I invested in a six-pack of Woodchuck to preserve our sanity.

But there was no screaming, no awkward interactions with relatives you see twice a year, and no tears (besides the onion incident). Just old jokes rehashed and new memories made between people who love each other.

If you’re going to spend Thanksgiving with your relatives, have a Friendsgiving, too. Celebrate both your families, no matter how weird one is.

Ellen McCarthy is on the same page. Meanwhile, in McSweeney’s, Chris Brotzman narrates “The First Friendsgiving.” It all began, he says, with a group of Millennials in 2008:

With the Thanksgiving holiday soon approaching, decisions needed to be made. Plans needed to be laid out. And so they began to wonder.

“Welp. I can’t afford a plane ticket home for Thanksgiving,” said one Millennial to another.

“Me either,” she replied.

A third chimed in. “Fuck it. Let’s have Thanksgiving here [in LA]. It’s way warmer than in the Midwest anyway.”

They began texting other Millennials of their remarkable idea! A feast just for them! No adults! No annoying family members! What a celebration!

Like a miracle, one of the Millennials had a friend in graphic design who was pretty badass at Photoshop and willing to design a logo for the eVites and the Facebook page. It’s even been told that the name “Friendsgiving” was coined by one of these Millennials who worked as an advertising copywriter, but that’s yet to be confirmed by Wikipedia.

“The more the merrier!” it said right there on the Facebook event page. But they all knew it. “Merrier” was just a façade. They knew this whole thing was merely a coping mechanism for their own, deep-seeded unhappiness: lost in a strange place, much like the Pilgrims of the first Thanksgiving, starving for acceptance from strangers. The main difference, of course, is that the original Pilgrims were also literally starving. Like, for food and medicine and stuff.

But do not be fooled. The Millennials had it rough, alright. For it is no easy thing to come to grips with the idea that life isn’t easy and can’t be handed to you.