…Tis the Season
I love the holiday season. I love feeling festive and I love the joy surrounding this time of year. The one thing I do struggle with is going right from Halloween to Christmas. It feels really stressful! Growing up in the States, celebrating Thanksgiving was always such a big part of gearing up for the holidays. When Mr. Actually and I got married and I moved to the UK, I was adamant that Thanksgiving would still be a part of this new life of mine!
I have so many happy memories associated with Thanksgiving. My dad in the kitchen at my Grandmother’s house, working away on a tasty meal. My sister and I piled around a table with our cousins, all on a pie sugar high. The pilgrimage back home, including a food coma-induced nap or two. It was always a day filled with love, laughter and good food.
After my grandmother passed away, we were in a time of transition. We still celebrated Thanksgiving of course, but this time round, we shared it with family friends. I have plenty of happy memories from those meals as well!
Now that I’m here in London, Thanksgiving is an equally important part of our year. I decided, when I moved, that I wanted to continue celebrating Thanksgiving, and use it as an opportunity to create some new traditions in my new family. I’ve spoken before about how Mr. Actually and I have started some of our own Christmas traditions.
Well, Thanksgiving is just another extension of that!
Thanksgiving, but with a twist…
So how do we celebrate? Well, the holiday is traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday of November… since that’s not an actual holiday in the UK, we decided to move our celebration to the Saturday following. We also decided we would invite friends to join us, and thus Friendsgiving was born!
The first time we did it, we had about 10 people squeezed around our tiny little dining table! It was fun but very stressful! These days it’s a bit more low key. I invite a couple, and Mr. Actually invites a couple (or two people… it’s not just a couples thing!)
That way, we can still celebrate, without it being too overwhelming. Plus, every year, we celebrate with different people and there’s something cool about that too! Friends are the family you choose after all, and it’s a nice way for us to share our appreciation!
Honestly, Friendsgiving fills me with so much joy! Not only because we get to share this with our friends, but because it’s a little piece of home.
What’s on the Menu?
One of the questions I get the most about Thanksgiving is what the heck we eat? Well, that and what makes it different to Christmas dinner…
Traditionally, Thanksgiving usually involves a turkey, whereas Christmas is a different kind of roast meat. My dad used to do ham and leg of lamb for Christmas! Turkey is definitely more of a Thanksgiving endeavor…
When it comes to our Friendsgiving feast, I also swap out turkey (it’s expensive, takes ages, and who really likes turkey anyway…) for roast chicken. I found this Jamie Oliver recipe ages ago and it’s been my go to ever since!
Then of course it’s all about the sides… Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans of some variety, mac’n’cheese… without fail, those are always on the Thanksgiving menu! I also make eggnog every year as well, as it’s pretty festive and a nice treat to have along with dinner! Finally, for pudding, a pecan pie with ice cream! It’s a classically American desert that is one of my favorites!
Because we’ve made Friendsgiving such an important part of our holiday celebrations, I get so damn excited for it every year! We begin talking about who we’re going to invite months in advance and I’ve had menu ideas bouncing around in my head since about mid-September… The build up is just as exciting as the day itself!
I find the holidays a particularly difficult time, being so far from my family, but things like this definitely ease the pain a bit. I have an incredible network of friends here, who are very much like family. Having Friendsgiving with them fills my heart with so much joy, and is my chance to honor that friendship. There is something so special about sitting down for a meal with our friends, you know?
So, I may not be living in the US anymore, but this is one tradition I won’t be giving up any time soon! Plus, it’s the perfect start to the holidays. Once Thanksgiving is over, I’m fully ready for Christmas!