Why I’m Thankful for Friendsgiving

By Tabatha Hunter
November 17, 2014
Thanksgiving image

We’ve all heard the saying: Friends are the family you choose. Thanksgiving is a time for being with family, but a Thursday holiday isn’t always convenient for traveling. So for the past several years, I’ve enjoyed my turkey with a handful of non-relatives, and now it’s a tradition that I wouldn’t have any other way.

It started seven years ago when my husband and I moved to Arkansas so he could work for Walmart. Our family is from Mississippi, eight hours away, and we couldn’t fit a trip into our schedule. My husband mentioned that many of his coworkers were in the same situation, so on Thanksgiving we opened our doors and created our own family.

While this is how we’ve celebrated every year since then and how we plan to do it in the future, apparently it’s a trend that’s growing. Some are calling it Friendsgiving, and according to a Walmart survey*, 65% of millennials have either celebrated the holiday in the past or have heard of the term and plan to make it their tradition this year.

The survey was split between millennials who put their own twist on the meal or prepare nontraditional dishes, and those who go the traditional route. I am a traditionalist myself. But because I’m in charge of the cooking, typically serving around 12 to 15 dishes, there have been a few years I’ve proposed switching to a taco bar. While mixing up the menu is what many of the millennials surveyed commonly do, my crowd likes the conventional for now. After all, as my 6-year-old daughter pointed out, it’s the only day of the year we call turkey day.

Yes, cooking that much is definitely a lot of work (truthfully, I do give myself a break with the turkey – our favorite is a fried version from a local restaurant) but it’s all worth it when I see our friends relaxing on the couch, watching football and happily stuffed. Oh, and it’s also worth it for the sweet potato pie, my absolute favorite part of the meal. I typically make four of those, and I could eat one all by myself.

Because my daughter was born shortly after we moved here in 2008, she’s never known Thanksgiving any other way. This year, we have a new baby boy, and we’re excited to share our nontraditional tradition with him.

*Online omnibus survey of 1,055 millennials conducted by Toluna on Nov. 3-6.