A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending my first official Friendsgiving hosted by my good friend Amanda. It was a delightful experience! I found it especially enjoyable this year because I have no family residing near me to spend time with during the holidays. (I did just make my way back to NM for a little road trip action, so I won’t milk my pity party too much.)

Amanda and I have become close in the last few months and I felt pretty cool to get invited to an intimate gathering celebrating friendship. Ginger – who also attended – and I drank too much homemade sangria (ok, that was me, Ginger was fine), ate too much delicious food from a potluck style assortment, and all-around had a lovely time.

I asked Amanda to contribute today and write about why she started this tradition and what it means to her to keep it alive and thriving. She was gracious enough to agree to my request.

amanda rucker

This is Amanda – not a photo of some random woman. It’s for context, people. And I wanted to make her share a photo. I’m a good friend like that.

I have spent many holidays hundreds of miles away from family. I would call my mom and dad sometime before they set the table, listen to my niece play in the background, and imagined the smell of pumpkin pie waft through the air. Calls always ended in a “wish I was there” sentiment.

But this year, I am driving distance away from family. An extra chair will be dragged out just for me. I will actually be the one planning and executing the meal, probably penance for never being around. As a (lazy) vegetarian, I’ve been instructed there is a turkey that needs to be cooked. Since Walmart is the only comprehensive grocery story in my hometown, I’ll be bringing my own supply of kale.

While I’m excited to spend time with family, one of my favorite traditions was threatened by my recent relocation. Friendsgiving: Friends Thanksgiving

My first Friendsgiving was in New York City my first year of grad school. Two of my best friends from college had moved to the city and were the closest things to family I had around. I trekked down from Boston on the $15 Chinatown bus that threatened to catch on fire with each mile. With their five theatrical roommates, we dined on a mix of Chinese take-out and homemade dishes. I had my first mojito, made my first openly gay best friend, and we later went to Koreatown for karaoke.

With these memories in mind, I threw a Friendsgiving a few weeks ago Omaha. I had a simple request for guests: bring something to share.

friendsgiving - table

My Omaha Friendsgiving wasn’t perfect: I ran out of chairs, one table cloth was actually a cheap fleece blanket, several paper plates and plastic forks had to be used, I forgot to set out fresh flowers. But it was perfect. November marks the year anniversary of my move back to Nebraska, and where I was once alone I now had an apartment filled with friends.

friendsgiving food after The food was demolished by the end of the night. Everyone brought something different with little thought to “the perfect menu”. It was wonderful.

Forgetting I am a vegetarian (again), I made chorizo sliders and apple cider sangria. My friends arrived with arms full of side dishes, deserts, and wine. Miranda brought homemade moonshine and a kale salad. Tom and Jessica brought gin and tonics and a sweet potato casserole. Jessica made a brussels sprouts dish that was so popular, I only was able to snatch a cold sprout that was left behind. Some brought family traditions, some made something new. We were too loud and pissed off my neighbors until the wee hours of the morning.  

friendsgiving 2 Hanging out in the crowd. Ginger might have been trying to scare me judging from her hand placement. Or possibly she was teaching me to use jazz hands.

Friendsgiving is a celebration of those who you chose to be in your life, a gathering of people to enjoy each other’s company and good food. This Thursday, I will enjoy the movie marathons with my dad, the pie making lessons from my mom, and playing cards with my gram. Friendsgiving, however, will always have my Turkey Day heart.

 Editor’s note: My brussels sprouts were pretty good. Thanks for noticing.

  • Amanda Rucker

    Hurray! Thanks for letting me post. What a fun evening.