Words by Mallory Dawson

The first Friendsgiving was two ping-pong tables pushed together, a blanket from Samantha’s room, and some pinecones from outside the dorm walls. I was 18 years old, and community in college was as simple as walking down the hallway, announcing that I was going to cook. 

Lately, we’ve exchanged wedding rings and insurance forms and learned how to cook chicken (if not yet a turkey) and Friendsgiving is still our refuge against the storm of time. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it doesn’t require commercialism or the giving of half-hearted gifts, it’s simply a meal together and gratitude. It is a Holy Day, reminiscent of the real etymology of the word holiday. I’m now 23, and each Friendsgiving has been a way to be thankful for this particular step in my journey. 

I should say, simply, that Friendsgiving is a Thanksgiving meal cooked with friends. One time, my sweet potatoes casserole had the consistency of soup, and this year my butternut squash casserole was butternut squash soup. So, hardly anyone ate it. The goal of this is not to outdo any grandmother’s Thanksgiving meal; it is simply to make a meal, to eat a meal, with friends. It is the intentional fostering of community.

This year, as the last person left, and my husband was voluntarily washing the mountain of dishes, the word that came to my mind was magnanimity. It’s a word that means generous, but I’ve always linked it, probably incorrectly, with magnitude. Magnanimity communicates to me the largeness of gratitude, how it spreads out inside me and fills up everything. Twenty-three looks different than twenty-four or twenty-two or any other part of this life, but I am filled with gratitude for mile markers like Friendsgiving that allow me to reflect on the journey.