Carve Out Time this Season for Friendsgiving
by Noelle Mandell
I do all that I can to get together with my friends across the Lone Star State (and at home in Houston) as often as possible, especially over the holidays. In recent years, Friendsgiving has become one of my favorite annual celebrations. For those who don’t know, Friendsgiving is simply a celebration in the likes of a Thanksgiving feast amongst friends. It is normally held a few days before or after the official holiday, and when properly done is potluck style. I have always looked fondly on Thanksgiving, and Friendsgiving is just an additional reason to have fun!
It’s a perfect example of voluntarily associating with individuals and choosing to lead the life you want to live. Instead of a holiday you have to participate in, in order to pay homage to family you’d rather just interact with long-distance, Friendsgiving is a gathering with people who you have chosen to be with, who carve out time in their busy holiday schedule to just express their gratitude for one another. Coming together over food with the opportunity to experience unique dishes from everyone’s cook books is just one bonus of this newfound holiday.
I actually really look forward to participating in my family’s traditional Thanksgiving. From going to the parade with my sisters in the morning, to helping my mom and grandma cook “award-winning” dessert recipes, to watching my dad fry turkeys and set the grass on fire, to the inevitable food coma after eating a heaping plate-full, there’s really nothing for me not to enjoy. But there’s a whole other side of the holiday in which we’re supposed to show appreciation that has young people squirming in their seat at the family dinner table. I’m not even talking about the real history of the holiday, I’m referencing the family rituals. Luckily, I don’t have to spend Thanksgiving with the kinds of distant relatives I’ve see in comedies and heard about from friends, although my family has had their moments!
Thanksgiving seems to have strayed away from its original intent for many among us in this regard, making it more laborious than relaxing. Individuals are faced with traveling hours to get home for a couple of days (we don’t even get the whole week off from school!) and are expected to interact with a plethora of intolerable extended family members. Some are confronted by judgmental cousins, others are chastised for being single, most just cringe as they overhear comments from relatives with antiquated understandings. All the while it’s understood that the proper way of dealing with this is smiling and acting respectfully toward them as they spew their hypocritical opinions. Until culture changes, the cycle will continue.
The common understanding with people is, “Don’t talk about politics or religion,” and I laugh because I think those are the most interesting and important topics to discuss, especially with people you admire. For instance, if talking about politics is supposed to be taboo then how are we supposed to converse with one another to come to reasonable conclusions on subjects we ourselves are questioning? I don’t know about y’all, but many of my understandings of the world have been molded and refined by those I surround myself with, and I don’t intend on censoring myself to abide by some pseudo-etiquette rule. These topics (religion and politics) shouldn’t be contentious; rather, conversation around them should be encouraged.
Friendsgiving creates spaces that cultivate dialogue toward further understanding the world and our friends around us. At the Friendsgiving we held this past weekend for the TMI team, we played a game, introduced by our newest Texan transplant, in which we were supposed to propose typical and outlandish moral dilemmas and hypotheticals, and to argue out the proper response. To me, besides just sheerly appreciating the friends in my life, this is what get-togethers like Friendsgiving are all about.
I guess if I had to entertain a family member who I was supposed to love and they were supposed to love me, but they were criticizing my sexuality, defending police brutality, advocating for war, or anything nearly along those lines, I might shy away from talking about these topics too so that grandpa doesn’t have a heart attack right then and there while I simultaneously try to refrain from head-desking right into my plate! But Friendsgiving has created a venue for people to come together and not have to worry about being themselves, not have to worry about being outed, not have to worry about biting their tongue when their bigoted aunt says a racist comment and you don’t have an Adele “Hello” button like the one SNL showcased in their latest skit on quarrelsome Thanksgiving dinner situations.
So while many appreciate Friendsgiving on a level that I’m nearly incapable of empathizing with, I still adore the holiday myself and love hosting the event to give a home to the many running from their scenarios or simply looking to get an extra fill of Thanksgiving cuisine. Friendsgiving is the type of holiday millennials should embrace, as it presents a healthy alternative for unhealthy holiday scenarios. Or if you’re like me, it just serves as a festive gathering and another reason to party with friends.
We at TMI wish you a happy Friendsgiving and hope to see you at ours next year!