In school, we were taught that Thanksgiving is about friendship, helping your neighbors, and gratitude. History class casually glossed over the element of betrayal, focusing only on the good things.
For some, the holiday season can still be characterized this way: highlight the good and ignore the bad, at least for one day.
Now that the holiday season is upon us, there’s an unspoken expectation to spend time with family. For those who have excellent relationships with the folks who raised them, this can be a joyous time.
For those on the other end of the spectrum view this time of year as stressful as they feel like they are gearing up for battle.
Holding strong opinions that differ from what the family believes can leave you on the outside. Taking a step away from religion, moving away from conservative viewpoints, or standing up for marginalized groups add tension to large family gatherings.
By the time someone makes the conscious decision to remove themselves from their family or has been uninvited, they have likely accrued the “black sheep” label.
These marginalized family members don’t fit in and will feel isolated, frustrated, or inadequate. If they have found communities that don’t make them feel that way, going back home can trigger some deeper issues. The holiday serves as a reminder that they don’t belong.
Popular news outlets that publish things like “10 Biggest Fights at Thanksgiving” or “How to Avoid Talking Politics Over Thanksgiving Dinner” serve as evidence of how volatile the family meal could be.
Tips like “don’t talk about politics” are easy to follow until your uncle brings up Roe v Wade.
“Stay away from hot topics” is easy until Grandma starts ranting about “the gay agenda” while your closeted cousin attempts to become invisible.
The horrible unbearable tension has led 58% of young Americans between 18-38 to dread even the thought of Thanksgiving with their family a survey commissioned by Sabra found.
As a remedy, Millennials and Gen-Z have redefined families and built new traditions for this time of year.
Young people who are estranged from their families and are going through some of their first holiday seasons alone, or just without family, and may feel some holiday blues or even guilt. Friendsgiving was essentially born out of the need for the black sheep to find a community where they no longer felt different than others, but excepted and loved.
The first use of “Friendsgiving” dates back to 2004, but the concept of gathering with chosen friends instead of family gained momentum in the 2010s. Some Friendsgivings take place before or after Thanksgiving, while others replace the holiday altogether.
A survey conducted by Personal Capital found that 32% of Gen-Z plan skip the holiday altogether and order a pizza instead.
There are plenty of other factors that may contribute to the decline of Thanksgiving, like the truth of the holiday’s origins compared to what is taught in schools, or the skyrocketing food prices. However, the Millennial/Gen-Z’s interpretation of the day, at least in part, makes real the friendship and found community narrative that we were once told it was all about.