As many of you are aware, the American Thanksgiving holiday is almost upon us. It is a time for family gathering, reconnection, and a ridiculous amount of food. Proximate to this holiday, an extension known as “Friendsgiving” has evolved. Basically, it’s a pre-Thanksgiving celebration of friendships, around a quasi-Thanksgiving meal. I’d never heard of it until recently, but it seems like a smashing idea.
I occasionally get to play in a home game on Sunday afternoons; last week, the game’s host, Matt, texted us all and suggested a Friendsgiving/poker parlay. He said he’d prepare a turkey if we’d bring the side dishes. The answers came in fast, in the form of, “I dibs the mashed potatoes.” All I could think was, “How did I never host or participate in one of these before?”
I’m folding everything worse than jacks to concentrate on food
Matt’s kitchen was covered with dishes full of turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, sautéed green beans, chorizo and sweet potato salad, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, deviled eggs, fresh fruit, home baked biscuits, red velvet cake and chocolate pie. To nobody’s surprise, the poker started bang on time as it always does; people just randomly wandered into the kitchen, filled a plate, and came back to the table.
So we ate comfort food and played poker for an entire afternoon and early evening. As we did, I got to thinking about words such as “Friendsgiving” and “Pokergiving”. Honestly, I’m not at all sure we need them. I know that while I was there, as I was leaving, the emotion I had was appreciation. Appreciation that I have a life where I can take a day and do nothing more than share a meal and a card game with friends. Deep appreciation that I have friends with whom to share those things.
Matthew Dennis, a retired University of Oregon professor who studied the Thanksgiving tradition, writes, “In some ways, the thing that’s distinctive about Thanksgiving is that it’s not Christmas. It’s not about gift-giving, it’s not about spending a lot of money. A lot of it should be homemade and improvisational. Whereas Christmas is, well, you know, this bonanza of commerce…”
Our gathering was improvisational, last-minute, and truly joyous. I don’t think we need a word such as “Pokergiving”; I think “Thanksgiving” does just fine.