Looking around my Friendsgiving table on Friday, I was filled with sheer joy.
Even though the whole thing was a bit of a mess.
Nine of us were sitting around a plastic table, relocated from my backyard and draped with a new white tablecloth that was covered in creases after coming straight from its packaging. Each guest’s place setting contained the odds and ends of different cutlery sets and a few mismatched plates. Once the turkey was (finally) ready, cutting it became a four-person fiasco with me reading directions off an iPhone, while others inspected the meat and helped tear off the seemingly superglued thighs. Two people were stuck sitting on a piano bench. I’m pretty sure the food was cold.
But who cares, right? We had plenty of wine, great conversation, and no one got food poisoning. It had all the magic of Thanksgiving, but with friends instead of family — a mix of my university friends, coworkers, and the last-minute addition of my younger brother. We discussed politics, vented about our jobs, and clinked glasses in a toast to the season.
And that’s what Friendsgiving is all about. The food — which included garlic mashed potatoes and roasted carrots, in my case — is just a bonus.
In recent years, this holiday of sorts has grown in popularity. Thirtysomethings are driving the trend, according to a survey from the social app Skout, which found 18 per cent of people between 30 and 39 plan on celebrating Thanksgiving with friends this year — along with 11 per cent of people 18 to 29.
For some, it’s a nice addition to the traditional family celebration. For others, including those who can’t get home for the holidays or who don’t have a tight-knit family, it’s the real deal.
When I told my boyfriend we were hosting a Friendsgiving dinner — with two weeks notice — he didn’t skip a beat:
“So that means we get to have turkey ... twice?” he said.
It sure did. But it also meant a massive grocery trip and a hunt for a fresh turkey at multiple shops in the city. I wrongly assumed it was already turkey season, but with Thanksgiving still a week away, frozen was the only option at most grocery stores. (My boyfriend ended up calling a butcher shop in Kensington Market, and they kindly put a whole fresh one on hold, rather than chopping it up into separate parts. Crisis averted.)
In the end, it also meant a solid six hours in the kitchen, with this turkey rookie at the helm.
I frantically texted my Thanksgiving-expert mother through the whole process. Why does the turkey look brown already? How long should I leave it in the oven? Why aren’t there more drippings? And finally: Here’s a photo of the bird — does this, uh, look right to you?
“Not to alarm you,” my mother replied. “But that bird doesn’t look done to me.”
Back in she went, with a meat thermometer in the thigh, until the temperature hit the magic number: 180 F.
When we finally carved open the stuffing-filled bird, I felt a wave of relief. The dark meat looked dark, and the white meat looked white. The potatoes were adequately mashed. The vegetables were roasted.
All was right in the world — and it was finally time to eat.
“That was the best Friendsgiving ever,” one friend said later.
And you know what? Even with the turkey troubles, cobbled-together place settings, and around 50 plates, bowls and utensils to clean the next day — it really was.