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25th Nov 2021

Friendsgiving: From the perspective of an Irish girl who’s only ever seen it on American television

Katy Thornton

Friendsgiving. We’ve spent years watching it take place on television shows like Friends, New Girl, Brooklyn 99. It always seems like a bit of craic, although given the nature of television, there’s always some disaster that makes the event go slightly awry. Living in Ireland, I’ve never been subjected to a Thanksgiving meal, let alone a Friendsgiving meal, but after much media consumption, I think I’ve developed a fair opinion on the event that is Friendsgiving.

So what does Friendsgiving entail? Essentially it’s the same holiday, except it is celebrated with friends instead of family. Friends come together to make the dinner and dessert (hopefully with no beef and peas in trifle) and discuss what they’re thankful for.

Friendsgiving is one of those holidays that takes a left turn from the actual holiday. Much like Galentine’s Day celebrates female love, Friendsgiving is a good alternative for those who perhaps aren’t as close to family, or can’t make it to family. But do people really get together to discuss gratitude? Somehow I doubt it, believing it’s more a holiday, like any other, that gives us an excuse to get together and drink. Having only experienced Friendsgiving through the magic of television, it’s difficult to know if that is actually what it’s like. In recent years, following American influencers has created an even further image of what the holiday is, and how people celebrate it.

What I’m trying to get to the bottom of is whether it’s all a bit performative, and even if we can agree that it is, is that such a terrible thing? The last two years have been grueling; there’s not one person on this planet who has not felt its effects. With cases rising again, there’s a feeling of deflation, even hopelessness, that can be difficult to shake. Do we have the right to judge people who want to get together and discuss what they’re thankful for if it’s a good reason for them to absorb some human connection?

It’s no bad thing that we occasionally take a moment to remember the good in our lives. That we are able bodied, that we are healthy. That our loved ones are healthy. That we are still here after this incredibly difficult year. If we can’t find big things to be grateful for, how about the small things? The cup of coffee you had in the morning. The smell of fresh air. Listening to a really good song and singing it in the car. Having good friends.

Should we wait for a holiday like Friendsgiving to show our friends we love them? No. Should we wait for Valentine’s Day to show our significant other what they mean to us? No. But is there anything intrinsically wrong with using these days to do just that? No, I don’t think there is. Personally, I think if it brings people together, and makes people remember what they’re thankful for, there are worse ways to spend a Thursday evening.

Just don’t get a turkey stuck on your head if you are into Friendsgiving. Or add mince and carrots to the trifle.

Header image via Shutterstock

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