A Pedacito Of Thanksgiving Away From Home
Updated: Jun 19
My family typically does the big family gathering -- grandma, aunts and uncles and cousins and their kids -- all together at one home in the Memphis area for Thanksgiving.
Then for Christmas, we do the immediate family gatherings. My grandma, when she was still alive, would come to our house and my aunt’s house to spend time with us and we would just enjoy each other’s company.
When I moved away from home at the age of 25, I knew there would be some holidays where I would have to work thanks to being in the news business and that meant missing out on the family traditions.
The first holiday in Atlanta that I had to work on was Christmas. I spent it with good friends and had a great time. But the bonus was that my parents came down a few days later and we just did a “delayed” Christmas celebration.
I spent a Thanksgiving or two working there as well but was able to join some friends and their families for dinner those times and meet up with my family over the weekend.
However, when I moved to New York, I knew things would change and I had to change my expectations of what the holidays were like. I was lucky enough to be able to fly home for Christmas every year, but for the 8 years I lived in New York, I never left for Thanksgiving.
My friend, Heather, was somewhat in the same boat as I was, single and in the city without any family and not being able to get home due to various challenges. She had introduced me to a few of her friends during the year and we were invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at her friend, Maria’s.
Thus started my run with “Friendsgiving”.
Sure, I’d heard of this before but never experienced it fully. The first year was a little strange, especially since the traditions of my family were hard to replicate with people I didn’t know well. My family has great food, but it’s more about spending time together than it is anything else. So it’s very hard to replicate.
But I figured spending time with old friends and some new ones and learning new traditions wasn’t a bad thing. Plus, I wouldn’t be at home. So I grabbed a side dish and a bottle of wine and headed up to Maria’s apartment.
The next few years, I was able to spend all but one with at least one of my group of friends. Each time was unique and I learned about the various family traditions, thanks to the diverse backgrounds of my friends.
From crowding into New York apartments and using the small kitchens to cook as big of a feast as we could to heading on the Long Island Railroad to a family home of another friend, I did it all.
Another Thanksgiving tradition I was able to experience was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. While it’s such a “made for TV” event, there really is nothing like seeing the huge balloons pass by, hearing the bands playing, and catching a glimpse of Santa Claus as he kicks off the Christmas season.
Not being with family over the holidays can be tough, but I truly believe that you can create traditions for yourself that carry on no matter where you are during a holiday.
What holiday traditions does your family have that you try to replicate no matter where you are?
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