Happy Friendsgiving!

I hadn’t heard of the term “Friendsgiving” until I received a Facebook event invite from my friend Danielle a couple weeks ago. Apparently, she and her roommates wanted to organize a group of us to get together and celebrate Thanksgiving in our own way. It would be a pot-luck styled meal, and everyone was encouraged to make their favorite dish, either solo or “coupled up” with someone else. I had never attempted to cook anything Thanksgiving related, but I posted that I would bring sweet potato casserole (with mini marshmallows on top!) and waited to see who else would be attending.

What I thought would be a small gathering of (mostly) girls in a tiny apartment turned into the most anticipated event pre-finals. As the Friendsgiving drew closer, the more people responded “yes” to the RSVP. It started off as an idea for maybe 15 people to get together, yet turned into a party of 50+ with the excitement and enthusiasm to match. It became clear that one apartment could not fit an event this size. We were all notified to bring our spirit and food to a large lecture hall in Bartley Hall. As days went on, the online wall began blowing up with dessert ideas and side dish claims. It seemed like everyone was going, and everyone would attempt to cook.

Danielle and her roommates, as the impeccable hostesses they were, decided that they would cook the turkeys. TWO turkeys in fact, to accommodate the large crowd they had attracted. In the days leading up to Friendsgiving, we affectionately referred to the turkeys as “The Birds.” The Birds dominated our conversations and thoughts. Moms were called, cooking instructions were googled, plans were laid. My friends were about to attempt one of the most grown up/difficult culinary tasks I could ever imagine. I was scared, but they were ready.

The day of Friendsgiving arrived. I painstakingly read the directions for my casserole at least a dozen times, even though it is a fairly simple dish. While I imagined every possible thing that could go wrong, when 55 minutes were up, my casserole came out of the oven, perfectly. This Thanksgiving thing didn’t seem so hard after all.

As I walked out the door, my phone rang. It was Danielle. Slightly panicked Danielle. The Birds weren’t ready. They weren’t even NEARLY ready. Her roommates would be late, but we had to get there because people would be arriving soon. Hopefully they could wait for the main course.

I showed up at the lecture hall after a few other people, but soon after I put my casserole down, the whole room started to fill up. Cookies and pies! Cakes and pastries! One after another came in and were lined up on a table. There were baskets of rolls next to multiple trays of stuffing. Corn, green beans, and mashed potatoes galore! People brought asparagus wrapped in bacon, real cranberry sauce not made from the can. College kids executed their grandmother’s recipes perfectly and showed up with traditional family dishes that were passed down through the generations. In a lecture hall of smiling faces and tons of hugging, it looked like a real Thanksgiving feast. Except for of course, the turkeys.

To prevent the food from getting cold, we started to eat. I was beyond impressed how good things tasted. I didn’t think college kids really knew how to cook, considering we tend to resort to mac and cheese or ramen noodles on any given week night. But the food was delicious and by the end I was in that cozy, happy food-coma. We played music, shared some Thanksgiving traditions, and wrote on a poster board all the things we were thankful for. The Birds still hadn’t arrived, so everyone got seconds and thirds. We ate almost everything, which was impressive given the massive amount of food we started with.

As people were wrapping up their feast (about an hour and a half after the event started), Danielle’s two roommates made a grand entrance, each carrying a 18-pound turkey. We all cheered as soon as they walked in the door. Even though we had finished with dessert, almost everyone had a piece of turkey to finish. It seemed like the first annual Friendsgiving was a great success. (Oh and everyone loved my casserole. So it was definitely a success! :))

Being surrounded by 50 of my peers, in a lecture hall of all places, and eating a beautiful home-cooked meal was in and of itself something to be thankful for. From Meredith reciting a Thanksgiving poem that she wrote when she was 11 and JD insisting I try his mashed potatoes, to the Orientation people breaking out into our staff dance and Danielle insisting to take pictures of everyone with their dishes, every small moment made me even more thankful for the friends I have and the positivity that surrounds me. I think every day should be Friendsgiving :)

Here’s to “The Birds” & being thankful.

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