Short answer: The best holiday, and yes. 

By Stacey Ballis
October 24, 2019
Maren Caruso/Getty Images

This year will mark the 28th time I have hosted Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is, for those of us who love to cook, either the most beloved or most hated time of year. If you are a fan of the food, and like most of your family, this can be your holy grail, pulling off a meal of epic proportions with a lot of moving pieces and high expectations.  If you do not feel comfortable executing the meal, or your family has a tendency to use the day as a time to exorcise demons, you might dread it. 

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For many, the tradition of the Friendsgiving has taken root, the idea that if you or your family either cannot travel to be together for the day, or if you will only be thankful if you don’t have to engage with your family at all, bringing together a table of friends means that you can enjoy the holiday. I have long subscribed to the idea that there are relatives and there is family, and the first is pure genetics and the latter is about action and emotion. For many, the “family” they are born into are just their relatives, and their true chosen family are the friends that make them feel safe and loved and supported. Friendsgiving is a wonderful tradition, and I endorse it fully.

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I have an embarrassment of riches to have both, my blood family who are also my bestest friends, my husband’s family (who I refer to as my in-loves and not in-laws) and long, deep friendships that feel fundamentally familial to me. So, my Thanksgiving table is always a mix of the two and we celebrate as one happy unit.

But many of my nearest and dearest pals are also blessed with family that they enjoy and other obligations on the day, and it always was a bit sad to us that we couldn’t be in two places at the same time. Especially since everyone really loves to cook and is great at it! We have done some day-after Thanksgiving gatherings with leftovers, which can be fun. One of our bonus families used to do their Thanksgiving dinner on Friday so that they could all be together without the restrictions of divorced couples who split time or people who alternate years with in-laws, and we got two awesome Thanksgivings on one weekend.

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But a while back our happy gang of pals had a revelation. What if we just picked another time of year and did a potluck of Thanksgiving food. Thus, Fakesgiving was born. Our motto?  “All of the food, none of the family.”

Fakesgiving is a tradition worth adopting. We usually plan it for the dead of February or early March when the weather still warrants heavy comfort food, and there is enough distance from the turkey and stuffing of the holidays to make them craveworthy again. We do it on a weekend day, and as a potluck, so everyone gets to make the dish they are most famous for, and no one has to shoulder the responsibility of the whole meal. Anyone who has a good drunk uncle or tipsy aunt story from their own real Thanksgivings trots it out for our delight. If anyone had any actual drama at their previous celebration, it is usually right about the time it has stopped being hurtful and started being funny, so we share and commiserate. 

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And our special post-dinner tradition?  A white elephant gift swap, where everyone wraps up that thing they got as a gift for the holidays that they have no earthly reason to possess, and we make a game of passing those items along between us.

Fakesgiving is a holiday we are truly thankful for. It gives us a reason to gather with some of our favorite people for a day devoted to great food (without too much fuss), to celebrate our love of each other. 

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Whether your Thanksgivings are amazing or fraught, whether you are surrounded by relatives or family, Fakesgiving should be on your agenda. It is either a bonus or a glorious chance at a re-do, and both options are most welcome.

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