I was at the salon a few weeks ago for my seasonal haircut, engaging in mindless chit-chat with the cute young gal who was washing my hair, when she asked me about my plans for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Robin Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at robinjm@earthlink.net.

“Well, we have a pre-Thanksgiving chili night with neighbors on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” I began.

She, being under 30 and thus recognizing all things “trending,” perked up and said, “Oh! You’re having a Friendsgiving!”

“No,” I frowned, admitting to my own un-trending-ness. “It’s pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors.”

I won’t have my fun chili night cheapened by a trendy cliché.

Friendsgiving, for those of you who are as un-trending as I am, is marketed as Thanksgiving, only better. A snarkier definition is that it’s a Thanksgiving meal ostensibly shared with people you really WANT to eat with instead of with the people you really DON’T want to eat with … or something like that. It can happen anytime during the month of November: the Wednesday before or the Friday after, the weekend after, or really any day at all except on Thanksgiving … no, it can even happen on Thanksgiving.

Friendsgiving has its own invitations, Pinterest pages, Wiki page and page on Merriam-Webster.com. It has its own set of rules on Buzzfeed and The Kitchn, created by people who write for Buzzfeed and The Kitchn. (Here I digress just long enough to wholeheartedly endorse a rule listed on both sites which states that if you are assigned to bring a dish, bring it completely prepared — do not bring its components and assemble it in the host’s kitchen. Thank you, social network site writers, for validating my personal pet peeve.)

Southern Living has even gotten into the game, devoting a post to Friendsgiving recipes that look suspiciously like Thanksgiving recipes.

Robin prepares a dish of Thanks Con Carne.

So maybe our pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors doesn’t qualify as Friendsgiving anyway, because we don’t do the traditional turkey and sides. Either way, I like our plan much better. I have enough trouble cooking one turkey a year; I don’t want to do two in one month. Besides that, it will be July, and I will still manage to discover a Tupperware container of leftover turkey or sweet potato casserole in the back of the freezer — I don’t need more of the same from an identical dinner. Like a Disney sidekick, a bowl of chili provides a welcome relief to the barrage of leftovers on the one end and the barrage of preparations on the other.

Back to our pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors, whose names I will now reveal as Lisa and Andy. We take turns hosting and supplying the chili; Lisa makes Cincinnati-style, and I make halftime-style. We also supply kids, parents, and occasional surprise guests, and we always have a great evening, unmarred by the fact that we are practically trending — but not quite.

The only other snag in our Pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors is the clunky title. I admit that “Friendsgiving” is a whole lot catchier. So what shall we call it? “Chili Night” is too generic. “No Thanks-giving” is too harsh. Thanks Con Carne? Three Alarm Neighbors? Friends Five Ways?

Let me know, and I’ll start my own trend.

7 replies on “‘Friendsgiving’? Thanks, but no thanks.”

  1. Why are you slamming the young people? I’m your age and I try HARD not to do that… because I remember when (old) people used to do that to me when I was a young adult and to grump and be dismissive. I hated it, Also, you didn’t invent this “trend” as you seem to think you did. PS the young adults called and they want their clothes back

  2. I’m pretty sure you were not “slamming” young people. You seem to be more focused on all the “trendiness” or “viral” things that occur now with social media so pervasive.

    I do not generally like trendy cliche’s either.

    Back to young people, so many of them have experienced broken homes, divorces and so forth that they really don’t relate to family gatherings like older people. So who can blame them? Be thankful for your friends if you wish just don’t change the name. Or is another form of revisionist history?

  3. Perhaps this new “friendsgiving” is another example of younger people surrounding themselves with similar thinking people (polarization,group think-you get the picture). Perhaps one might not want to eat with “Uncle Joe” because he does not believe in Climate warming ,but just maybe you can learn something from him ( maybe not). Families can be stressful , but as the saying goes “they have to take you in”, friends..not as likely.

    Pass the sour cream and /or hot dog, I’ll have mine: ” a dog a walkin”….

  4. Or maybe, Alexander, they don’t want to eat with “Uncle Joe” because he thinks it’s okay to “date” 14 year-olds as long as he asks the parent’s permission. . . .

  5. I don’t know why Ms. Conte refers to herself as “un-trending” when she is very up-to-date in terms of technology and everything that is going on, and this is reflected in her writings. This puzzles me.

    I agree with some of the readers who address the difference between having a blood-related family and a family of Choice. I also agree with some of the comments that Ms Conte is blessed by having both types of families in her life. I think that Friendsgiving is a beautiful way to characterize a celebration of giving Thanks with people who share our sense of fellowship.

  6. Also, if I may, Ms Conte said that Chili night gives her a break from a “barrage of leftovers.”

    What would happen if the barrage of Thanksgiving leftovers is taken to a nearby community center instead or to a church such as Sandy Springs U.M.C., where many poor and hungry people in the community get together every Sunday after service?

  7. I think it’s awesome that many in the younger generation no longer feel as pressured to tolerate what is essentially abuse during the holidays- be it the creepy “uncle joe” that gives women “love pats” on the derrière or the cranky grandpa that tells his gay grandkid that she/he needs forced conversation therapy– bravo!

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