Submitted by Taidghin O’Brien on Thu, 11/15/2018 – 4:10pm
Rey and I went to a Friendsgiving celebration last night and it reminded me what Thanksgiving is about, not from a historical standpoint but from an etymological standpoint. Thanksgiving is a celebratory embodiment of the actual act of giving thanks. But, more on that later.
We had not been invited to a Friendsgiving before, at least not by that name. I had hosted what would be considered Friendsgiving multiple times before but had never heard of it referred to as such. To be fair, I probably had heard it called Friendsgiving before, thought to myself “oh that’s cute,” and proceeded to forget about it two days later. There’s a lot going on up there, sometimes things slip through the cracks, or slip out the ears.
Anyhow, just so we’re all on the same page, Friendsgiving is defined as “a Thanksgiving feast held by and for someone’s friends.” Easy enough to understand. Personally, I like the quote used on Urban Dictionary to describe Friendsgiving: “Let’s celebrate Friendsgiving with the people we wish were our real family.” Short and to the point. Although I love visiting family for Thanksgiving, sometimes celebrating with friends can just seem more, well, natural. Then again, everyone’s situation is different, and for many people, their friends have become their true family.
So we found ourselves at a friend’s house with 14 other people for a celebration of friendship and to give thanks for the support structure we all provide one another. Everyone brought a dish or two, or some form of libation, and we sat around a long hodgepodge of a table (because how many people do you know who can fit 18 people at their dining room table) to enjoy good food, good fun, and good friends.
After the wonderful evening, I began thinking about what it means to give thanks. With our friends, we came together with sustenance to share with one another and directly express our love and thanks for being in each others’ lives. The same thing can happen if you visit family for Thanksgiving. You might have issues with family members or your family as a whole, but many times the love eventually wins out and you’re able to come together and give thanks. I realize many people might think that to be naively optimistic, which is fine, but the lesson behind it is an important one to remember and one that we should try to apply to our everyday lives. Put differences aside, love one another, and support one another.
At this time of year, it is important to remember that there are many ways to give thanks, and not just to your friends or your family. Donate clothes to a homeless shelter, participate in a food drive, volunteer your time doing pretty much anything not self-serving, or support a local, national, or international organization whose cause you believe in. There are non-profits all across the planet that are affecting change in different ways, trying to regenerate the environment, repair broken or degrading systems, and reduce the inequities that plague our global society. All of these groups and organizations need support from people who are thankful for what they have and are thankful for the ability to help others.
No system is an island. Rural or urban, local or international, poor or wealthy. We need to work together to make sure that future generations have the same opportunities that we have, and a healthy planet to enjoy those opportunities on. So, I encourage you to give thanks in the coming weeks and give back to the organizations that you believe in. I will be giving thanks with family and friends and giving back to NPR, Eastern Illinois Food Bank, University YMCA, PRN, and The Land Connection.
And, to those of you who are looking for some wonderful Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving recipes here are some of my new favorites:
Roasted Potatoes with Fennel – https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/roasted-potatoes-and-fennel-recipe-2109776
White Balsamic and Rosemary Cranberry Sauce – https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/white-balsamic-rosemary-cranberry-sauce
Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin – https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/10080-mustard-glazed-pork-tenderloin
Thanks to you for reading!