As a card-carrying deranged holiday person, it’s really not like me to be cranky about any seasonal event, except for maybe St. Patrick’s Day (and that’s only because I once spent it stuck at Newark with a dozen wasted frat guys chugging green beer). After all, I eat Thai with my dad every Thanksgiving and tend to observe Passover with an M&M seder, so I’m hardly in a position to tell other people how to celebrate. That said, I can’t possibly be the only one who’s noted the cultural ubiquity of the Friendsgiving feast with some exhaustion.
Before all my friends read this and rush to disinvite me from their Friendsgiving fetes, allow me to qualify my crankiness a little bit. I love nothing more in the world than spending time with my friends, especially around large quantities of food, and I’m overjoyed to do it for most of the year. But as the whole “Friendsgiving” concept has evolved beyond its roots within the LGBTQ+ community, and gone from being an outsiders’ paradise to a mainstay even among friend groups who all then disperse to spend the actual holiday with their families of origin, it’s also gotten a little bit…overwhelming. Rather than presenting a community-based alternative to a traditional Thanksgiving, the 2023-era Friendsgiving phenomenon feels like it’s adding pressure to celebrate the holiday with friends as well as en famille; a lovely proposition, to be sure, but who has the time, let alone the two-turkey budget?
It’s not that Friendsgiving is only worth the trouble when one has nowhere else to go, but I’ve always considered it an accomplishment just to make it to the end of the holiday season intact—and that’s without having to host or cook for a whole extra gathering (that also carries the expectation of being extra-chill and fun). I assumed everyone was like me, but as I scrolled Instagram over the past week, I was confronted with unassailable evidence that other people had actually planned and executed gorgeous, autumnal feasts with their friend groups well in advance of the final Thursday in November. I should know by now not to compare myself with what I see on social media, but I still felt a jolt of FOMO: Should I have planned something super-cute and amber-toned and expertly lit for my friends? Did I somehow botch this fake holiday?
As I see it, the stretch of time between Halloween and New Year’s Day is a marathon, not a sprint; even Christmas-music-blasting, Chanukah-cookie-decorating holiday zealots like me have to pace themselves or risk burning out before the Thanksgiving leftovers are even consumed on Friday morning. I’m eager to host friends in my new house before the end of the year, but I’m providing myself a little cover by planning a holiday party chez moi in mid-December, not now—and even that might get downgraded to an “I order a bunch of pizza and everyone else brings the liquor and silently watches TV with me” situation. Maybe if we saved ourselves the effort of throwing or attending not one but two obligatory Thanksgiving feasts—one for family, one for friends—we’d all have the energy to party our guts out at elaborate Yuletide bashes, or at least find it within ourselves to catch up on all those emails by the end of the year (gulp).