Getting a friendsgiving tradition going can be tough, coordinating multiple schedules. But it’s often worth the effort to get everyone together for a low-key laughter-filled afternoon. (Photo courtesy Andrea Blodgett)

by Sean Clougherty

Friendships are often one of the things we’re most thankful for when asked so it’s somewhat ironic that getting together with friends can be a tall task during Thanksgiving.
That is, unless you plan for it.
“Friendsgivings” as they’re called — set get-togethers before or after the main Turkey Day — have gotten more popular over the years, often becoming traditions all their own.
“It’s not often that friends can get together this time of year,” says Andrea Blodgett of Queenstown, who’s part of a friendsgiving group that rotates between several houses year to year. “It’s a lot of scheduling to work around.”
But it’s worth the effort to get everyone together for a low-key laughter-filled afternoon.
“Friendsgiving is my favorite holiday of the year — albeit a made-up one,” writes food writer Alexandra Shytsman in the forward of her recipe book “Friendsgiving.”
“Friendsgiving is everything you love about Thanksgiving — hearty food, day drinking, good company — without the things you don’t love, like nagging family members and heated political discussions that make you question if maybe you were adopted after all,” she said.
Shytsman started having friendsgivings while in high school, organizing elaborate dinner parties for her buds and testing new recipes and her culinary skills.
“I’ll never forget the feeling of triumph when I pulled my first turkey out of the oven and proceeded to carve it as I’d seen done on television,” Shytsman writes. “I was as surprised as anyone to learn that it was in fact cooked through, juicy and delicious.”
As friends moved in and out of her life, Shytsman continued the dinners making new traditions along the way.
“Each year, I look forward to adding new dishes and flavors to the menu, and watching my friends excitement as they approach the dinner table,” She writes.
Here on the Mid-Shore, Blodgett’s group started about 10 years ago with just six people.
No one had children at that point, but now the gatherings range from 20-30 adults and 20 kids.
“I love getting everybody together — it’s fun to get the kids together,” Blodgett says. ”It’s nice to be in someone’s home where you’re comfortable.”
Like many Friendsgivings, as with Blodgett’s, the host handles cooking the turkey or main course and guests fill in with side dishes, desserts and other treats.
“The mac-and-cheese is really good, one person always does that,” Blodgett said. “Every year it’s different because people want to change it up a bit but there’s always the green bean casserole and things like that that everybody looks for.“
This year, planning for the Friendsgiving was intitially in doubt, Blodgett says, with schedules looking too cramped to find a date that would suit everyone.
When word got around they might have to take a year off, many in the group resisted the thought and this year’s host even rescheduled another event to keep the friendsgiving tradition going.
They even made t-shirts for the occasion.