Yesterday, I will have hosted Friendsgiving.
Har har; I love funny time tenses.
To explain, I’m writing this on a Tuesday, the meal will be Thursday, but my blog will post this Friday, which is when it gets to you.
This year, nearly 20 girls will be at the table, ladies whom I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting as part of our neighborhood group, the Gin & Juice Club. We get together about once a month, and it’s one of those gatherings that I always look forward to attending before arrival and feel happy about and comfortable with after getting home.
Women will tell you that is not always the case with girl get-togethers, which can start with dread but end up being good, or start with anticipation but go horribly wrong.
This is because women are very, very complicated.
Not this group, though, and while I feel the normal stress-pinches that come with hosting a big meal, I’m still looking forward to it. (Hint: I always make my dessert first so, if everything else is a horrible disaster, I at least have something to feed guests.)
In fact, it’s prompted me to look into this growing Friendsgiving phenomenon, which, like almost all things, has turned out to be interesting. Thanks in advance to an article by Blake Bakkila in Real Simple magazine, as I’m pilfering all of my info from it.
An episode of the TV show Friends is largely credited for introducing the idea in November 1994, when all of the characters gathered in Monica’s apartment for the traditional meal instead of heading home to their families. But, while they toasted to “a lousy Christmas and a crappy New Year” together, the word “Friendsgiving” was never mentioned.
According to Merriam-Webster, that didn’t happen in written form until 2007 when the word was used by Usenet and Twitter users.
The word kept bouncing around here and there until 2011, when Bailey’s Irish Cream launched the ad campaign “Friendsgiving with Bailey’s.” Bailey’s then asked influencers to “participate by featuring their product in a meal with friends,” Bakkila writes. They did and it worked.
Neat, right? And also a little depressing that a TV show, social media, and alcohol popularized the otherwise lovely concept?
Maybe. But, for years, many of us thought it was Coca Cola that really put Santa Claus on the map. (Mark Forsyth of The Guardian has helped debunk that myth.)
Anyways, hosting for just women has resulted in a few interesting changes in my usual plan. First, I’ve had to stave off some generous offers for help, which doesn’t necessarily happen with male guests. I’ve declined because, when I host, I like to cook everything, in part because the Thanksgiving meal is like putting together puzzle pieces — with the oven acting as the work table. Between stuffing, baking bread, corn pudding, turkey and pies, that baby stays busy allllll day and doesn’t have much room for last-minute additions.
Also, when I am invited to someone’s home, I really, really like to NOT cook beforehand, don’t you? In turn, I like knowing that my guests don’t have to either.
Second, I’ve been putting a lot more thought into table decoration, which is not my strong suit. The more I’ve searched for pretty runners or interesting centerpieces, the more I’ve realized that Thanksgiving décor is basically extinct come the day after Halloween. Everything pumpkin and turkey has been ditched to make way for Christmas, and it was nary a leaf-patterned paper napkin that I could find.
Finally, I’ve learned that it’s OK to embrace change — even when it comes to traditions. With Gabrielle off at college, nearly every part of our lives has required adjustment. It’s forced me to think of this time as a launch instead of staying empty, of us choosing to be at the beginning of something new instead of wishing it had stayed the same.
And so, a giant girls Friendsgiving. I will retroactively accept your luck come this Friday.