And it’s not just that Friendsgiving sucks, it’s that it stands for cultural mediocrity and shittiness, writ large. It’s stupid. It’s the ne plus ultra of dumb, idiotic, made-up, fake holidays created exclusively for the most middlebrow human beings intent on perpetuating middlebrow, capital-b Basic culture.
Friendsgiving is the official holiday of your Facebook friends who relentlessly post Buzzfeed lists about what it’s like to be in your twenties and working a mid-level marketing job when you’re single in Cleveland (next to a 30 Rock gif of Liz Lemon having diarrhea, or something), and Elite Daily/Thought Catalog “thinkpieces” about why being born in 1991 is just the goddamn pits.
But really: What is Friendsgiving? When I first heard about it only a few weeks ago—a moment when my universe was made stupider simply by the introduction of the fact that this thing exists—I just assumed Friendsgiving was exactly what it sounded like: A euphemism for “themed dinner party,” or some other nonessential commitment you’ll contract via guilt-loaded Paperless Post from your most overzealous, plan-happy friends.
Or so I thought, until I looked it up, and found a definition for Friendsgiving:
“Friendsgiving: The celebration of Thanksgiving dinner with your friends. This usually occurs on the Wednesday before or the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, since Thanksgiving is usually reserved for family gatherings.”
That’s per Urban Dictionary. Yes: Friendsgiving is a holiday so flimsily fabricated, so pathetic, and so juvenile, it’s only proper definition exists on a website best known for facilitating the Talmudic debates of stoned 15 year-olds on the meaning of words like fleek and blumpkin and the elusive alligator fuckhouse (5,183 upvotes).
But the thing is, that definition is so Friendsgiving of Friendsgiving. It’s feeble and slapdash and doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story of this malarial trend in entertaining. Like: Who was the first mouthbreather to spread Friendsgiving?
The origins of Friendsgiving are by no means clear, but I can assure you that they are stupid, and probably emerged from the same Illuminati of dumb cornballs who incepted Sandra Lee with the fever dream that is the Kwanzaa Cake. Somewhere on Etsy, I imagine the Ebola Bat of Friendsgiving remains at-large, selling awful “Made In Brooklyn” embroideries.
All I know for certain, though, is that we’re dealing with a holiday so insipid, it wasn’t even created by a greeting card company. That’s like Halliburton telling you that your war is too gauche for them to fight. But let’s just keep in mind what the meals on the nights before and after Thanksgiving had previously been called throughout history:
0 – 2012 A.D.: “Dinner”
2012 A.D. – ?: “Friendsgiving”
And you know what happened in 2012?
Your mother, the bodega guy, and the bodega guy’s cat all became social-media celebrities. And more than anything, Friendsgiving might be the first holiday created to benefit the most annoying people on the Internet that you know. Serious rhetorical question: If nobody Instagrams a Friendsgiving, did it actually happen? Answer: No, it didn’t, because it’s the official holiday of those people who make a yearly tradition of #humblebragging about having too many holiday parties to go to in December.
How else could anyone possibly justify taking the time to write and/or read:
- The Perfect Friendsgiving DIY Table Decor?
- 11 Easy Recipes For Friendsgiving In Your College Dorm?
- A “Friends”-Themed Friendsgiving Even Chandler Would Love?
You already know why. It’s because after these cultural jihadists share these posts on Facebook (no offense to actual jihadists), they go forth and multiply piss-poor constructions of JOEY’S TATOR TOTS or these deformed banana boats of molested root vegetable. And then post them to Instagram. And then get tight when you don’t “Fave” them. Because, as the old adage goes, that unexamined pumpkin deviled egg life just ain’t worth living.
We’re dealing with a “holiday” that yields some serious, Scientology-esque boosterism. Here’s Why Your Friendsgiving Is Always Better Than Your Thanksgiving and 10 Reasons Why ‘Friendsgiving’ Is Awesome and even, yes, the 17 Rules of Friendsgiving (by now you could probably guess that Rule Number One is not “Do not talk about Friendsgiving,” because the Friendsgiving celebration ritual apparently involves never shutting the fuck up about how great it is).
To that end: Friendsgiving is the ultimate underminer of a holiday. And as a Jew, I can speak as an authority on holidays strictly intended to undermine and overcompensate (“Christmas, you say? Well, how about a magic lamp, and not one, not two, but—count ’em—eight days of presents? BOOM!” – Some Rabbi 2,000 Years Ago Making The ‘Suck It’ Motion). And this is where Friendsgiving is supremely annoying: The core idea here is the implication that, as opposed to Friendsgiving, a regular Thanksgiving must be spent with family, and not friends; should be stogy at best; and if not boring, then at least tense and uncomfortable. Friendsgiving hinges on the idea that Thanksgiving is mediocre.
I resent that implication.
I resent the idea that I should have two meals, because one of them just isn’t supposed to be fun. Why else would you need an ostensibly unconventional, wacky and neat alternative? That, in its own way, is settling.
But what of the Thanksgiving that is, indeed, awful? What of it! Is there a more noble excuse to gather your family than to watch them slowly implode on each other while feasting on an oversized bird whose sole purpose on this planet was to die, and then have its stuffed carcass privy to your family’s petty, dumb dirty laundry?
To accept Thanksgiving as anything less than a celebration of the uncomfortable dysfunction that ties all of us together is to short-change a great American tradition, within which are multitudes of great American traditions (for example: forced emotional repression and revisionist history).
On the one hand, you have Friendsgiving, such a superficially inoffensive achievement in asinine ideas that The Internet won’t even bother finding it “Problematic.”
Thanksgiving is a holiday with actual capital-p Problems. Thanksgiving, at its core, is a problem, because it serves to paste over the history of white people showing up on the shores of North America, and promptly killing, pillaging, and raping everything in sight (including, probably, some turkeys). Thanksgiving is a holiday with a singular, machinelike purpose: To obstruct in plain view what absolute pieces of shit white colonists/people are. And Friendsgiving is the exponentially more caucasian version of that holiday. I’m no anthropologist, but I sincerely doubt the ethnic makeup of those actively celebrating Friendsgiving this year looks like “We Are The World.” I could be wrong! But what kind of people do you know that can afford the time and money to host two separate Thanksgiving-sized dinners?
You know what the days before and/or after Thanksgiving are actually for? Of course you do.
They’re for seeing your degenerate “friends” you left behind at home—or maybe, if you’ve grown into a fully-fledged townie, the ones who “got out”—and getting blackout drunk with them. And hearing them slur about how their allergy-ridden piggy little spawn and bloated sexless spouse have pulverized their dreams (or, alternately, how you are completely alone in the big city, just another godless piece of shit in a railroad apartment praying for that freelance check to show up and get you through the next week of never, ever writing for The New Yorker…ever). These are great times!
And lest you write this screed off as the rant of a malcontent, make no mistake, I love friends, and I do indeed love Thanksgiving. But I love it for how perfectly wrong so much of it is. For how it’s an exercise in the beauty of limitations: One day, once a year, for a big meal someone’s gonna fuck up, somehow. There’s something pure about that. And I love it because—unlike New Year’s Eve, or Christmas, or Valentine’s Day—it doesn’t seem engineered to make you feel romantically alone, or disappoint you, or alienate you in the most existential of senses. Despite the unceremonious mass slaughter of such noble, majestic, gravity-prone birds, Thanksgiving as we celebrate it in America is ostensibly supposed to be about charity and togetherness. These are not bad things.
Friendsgiving, however, is just another way to alienate people. To tell them that there’s only one right way to have Thanksgiving with friends, and that’s to not have a fun Thanksgiving with friends, but a Friendsgiving. Also, does every dinner party need a theme? Grow the fuck up. Just have a dinner party, okay?
Then again, maybe this is just the beginning. Maybe one day, Friendsgiving will, too, become wonderful by way of tension, repression, and dysfunction. Maybe it will become—like Thanksgiving—another celebration of our imperfect interpretations of it, and therein, together, our imperfections.
On Urban Dictionary, there was a second definition under “Friendsgiving.” It had less votes. It doesn’t quite do Friendsgiving justice. But if anything gives me hope for Friendsgiving, it’s this.
To that end, from ours to yours: Happy Friendsgiving. Enjoy the gravy.