For most people in America, Thanksgiving is a family holiday. The predominant image of the season is a family sitting around a table, praying, and passing food around as they laugh and make conversation.
There are several reasons for why Thanksgiving is a family holiday, but for the most part it is just something that is rooted in tradition. Add this to the fact that my family had not seen my older brother and me since we went away to school, and it is no wonder they were so shocked when I asked to spend Thanksgiving with my friends this year.
“Absolutely not,” my mom said without giving it a second thought. When I asked why, she told me that Thanksgiving is meant for people to be with their families, and I could not abandon my family like that. I pointed out that most of the “family” we were going to spend time with on Thanksgiving were my parent’s friends from college, so I did not see the difference between my parents hanging out with their friends on Thanksgiving and me doing the same. This flummoxed my mom for a little, but she but she stuck by her guns and told me that I could hang out with my friends the rest of break. So for the first time, I had two Thanksgivings.
Thanksgiving for my family consists of eating, playing Taboo, watching football, falling asleep, and then heading home from my godparent’s house with tons of leftovers in stow. It was these leftovers that I brought to the next day’s Friendsgiving.
When I showed up to my friend’s house it already smelled like Thanksgiving. I was the last of the group of fourteen to arrive and everyone had already placed their leftovers from the previous day on the table. After I added my contribution to the table there was turkey, ham, pulled pork, fried chicken, baked chicken, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, stuffing, apple pie, and sweet potato pie.
It was a great day, and one that felt almost exactly like Thanksgiving. However, there is something special about being able to spend a time like this with your friends. Often, we decide what the plan is in advance and we don’t meet up until we have a certain plan in place. However, this was a day where I got to really spend a whole day together and just enjoy the presence of my friends. Friendsgiving was a chance for me to truly be thankful for my friends, because on this day I realized how special they truly are to me.
Reflecting on my Thanksgiving vacation, I am glad my mom did not let me simply spend Thanksgiving with my friends. Often we take our family for granted and believe that we would rather just spend time with our friends. We see spending time with family as an obligation, not a privilege. I am glad that there is a day that is a family holiday, where I “have” to spend time with my family. This day shows me how lucky I am to have them and serves to remind me that I love them and that they love me.
Friendsgiving is an increasingly common event for Millennials. I would encourage my peers to make Friendsgiving a habit, but also not to let it replace Thanksgiving. Our family and friends are both important aspects of our life that shape us and continue to influence who we are today. Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving complement each other, and should allow us to appreciate all the people in our lives that are special to us.