I’ll be Home for Friendsgiving

Turkey Day is an underrated holiday. Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, it gets the rap of the middle child. But, even with its abysmal history, there is something special about being with loved ones for this holiday and the idea of being thankful for the moment you are in. This isn’t to say everyone’s Thanksgiving goes swimmingly —look at Chandler from “Friends.” At college, however, the air ripens with the opportunity to make something special. I’m an out-of-state student, so for the past three years, I haven’t been able to go home for Thanksgiving. This saddened me at first, but then I realized, I need to make it mine. This transfers to the (maybe overused) term: Friendsgiving.

Honestly, I like Friendsgiving more than Thanksgiving. Family relationships can be hard during the holidays, and there’s always some high-stress situation that occurs when relatives are in town. You’re around people you may not want to see — snotty-nosed kids that have never heard of washing their hands, and that one aunt that airs out the town’s dirty laundry unprompted. At Friendsgiving, you get to choose who you spend your time with. I feel like this is especially important for college, where watching the bustling campus turn into a ghost town makes the four day weekend feel all the more alone. I’m fortunate to know people who stayed every year, strengthening friendships in our shared inability to leave. I’ll admit, I worried my first year that I would spend every Thanksgiving alone, watching Instagram stories and TikToks from communities cherishing their time together. For me, I believe the ability to share a hot meal with people from all walks of life brings gratitude in a way I had never experienced before college.

Another plus of Friendsgiving is learning the different staples at the turkey table based on how and where you grew up. I’m from the South, so there’s a lot of soul food that I was surprised didn’t exist here in California (or at least, in San Diego) — sweet potato pie, turkeys that aren’t drier than a Popeyes biscuit, red-skinned mashed potatoes, and more. But some new additions that I’ve now found I love are pumpkin rolls, salads with cranberries and walnuts, spring rolls, and more! And, now that I am 21, I get to indulge in the warm apple ciders and sangrias that I had always smelled before but couldn’t taste.

Friendsgiving taught me that going home for the holidays doesn’t necessarily mean leaving campus. Home can be your friend’s dorm, and it can be whatever dining hall is open, serving Thanksgiving dinner all day. It can be binging that one show you had to put off because homework has a deadline and “House of Dragon” doesn’t. You can have multiple “homes” you go to, with different people associated with each. 

Yes, I believe Thanksgiving is an underrated holiday. I believe as time goes on, fewer and fewer people care about it. I can’t say if this is because we, as a people, have become more closed off, or simply because of the commercialization of the other holidays that sandwich it. Its ironic origin of slaughtering the people who are given ‘thanks’  also shrouds a dark cloud over the celebration,  which we cannot disregard no matter how much we like the cranberry sauce. My hope, though, is that our generation is creating a new Thanksgiving – one we are actually thankful for and don’t feel obligated to attend, where we share meals with those we choose, not those chosen for us. And that, when we sit around the table, with the cornucopia of our history and our culture in front of us, what we are grateful for won’t be a question we ponder.

What are you grateful for this Friendsgiving?

Art by Carol Chen of The UCSD Guardian

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