I wear two hats — chef and mom — and the reasons I want my kids to have Friendsgiving are pretty much half cheffy and half mom-ish. This celebration is an opportunity to explore culinary freedom without any family drama, oven competition, or polite smiles that express, "I don't like this."
There is a second reason, though, beyond the culinary. There are days of the year for moms and dads, but friends — so often a backbone in the life of college students and young professionals — deserve a moment of recognition.
First, the cheffy reason I like Friendsgiving: There are rare moments in a teen or 20-something's life that allow for serious cooking time. Friendsgiving is flexible with regard to date and time, as well as style, although it often leans towards the casual, with potluck-style food. That flexibility alone can make cooking feel less intimidating for a new(er) cook.
The real effect is even deeper. When they feel less confined, kids who are at school (like mine) or young professionals who are far from home (and have a kitchen), can try — really try — to cook something that takes time and planning, to make a festive meal or dish that they want, to break out a new recipe, or just to take charge of their kitchen and then (hopefully) feel so secure that they serve up their creations without fear of being judged.
Read more: The 10 Commandments of Friendsgiving
We sometimes forget that the traditional family Thanksgiving event can be replete with as much tension around the cooking as joy, and that can put quite a damper on a new cook's even trying to enter the kitchen to cook something of their own. Away from even the most charming and loving of traditions, they can feel emboldened to try making whatever they want. They can create and invent in their own kitchens, in their own spaces, in their own time, and in their own way. Talk about a teaching moment!
If my kids and their friends have questions (they always do) or if a recipe seems intimidating to them (it happens), I'm a just a text away, for sure, but I love that they can branch out courageously and be assured that their hungry friends are simply thrilled to be fed anything other than ramen in a styrofoam cup or a mug cake.
Life doesn't often allow specific friendships to last ad infinitum — but the ability to be a friend lasts forever.
Beyond the opportunity for culinary freedom, there is another reason I want my kids to have a Friendsgiving: it's a feast that acknowledges the value of friendship itself. My two oldest kids are at college, and I have met many of their friends. A bunch of them have stayed with us and we've played board games like Settlers of Catan (my husband cheats and drives them crazy) and binge-watched shows together. I know that these folks are my kids' family-away-from-home; they are the support network that they have built around them. This holiday embraces the real need we all have for friendship, and I am all for it.
Life doesn't often allow specific friendships to last ad infinitum — but the ability to be a friend lasts forever. The way my children deal with each other as a group and as individuals will apply in every personal relationship they will ever have. Relationships do not remain predefined as you grow up. You make them together. It's true with friends and partners and with family too.
I am thrilled to see my kids develop the skills they will need for life and in the kitchen (okay, this part needs my help). Together, that's celebration-worthy for sure.
Recipes to share: 20 Thanksgiving Sides You Can Bring to Friendsgiving