I was at the salon a few weeks ago for my seasonal haircut, engaging in mindless chit-chat with the cute young gal who was washing my hair, when she asked me about my plans for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Robin's Nest

Robin Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at robinjm@earthlink.net.

“Well, we have a pre-Thanksgiving chili night with neighbors on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” I began.

She, being under 30 and thus recognizing all things “trending,” perked up and said, “Oh! You’re having a Friendsgiving!”

“No,” I frowned, admitting to my own un-trending-ness. “It’s pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors.”

I won’t have my fun chili night cheapened by a trendy cliché.

Friendsgiving, for those of you who are as un-trending as I am, is marketed as Thanksgiving, only better. A snarkier definition is that it’s a Thanksgiving meal ostensibly shared with people you really WANT to eat with instead of with the people you really DON’T want to eat with … or something like that. It can happen anytime during the month of November: the Wednesday before or the Friday after, the weekend after, or really any day at all except on Thanksgiving … no, it can even happen on Thanksgiving.

Friendsgiving has its own invitations, Pinterest pages, Wiki page and page on Merriam-Webster.com. It has its own set of rules on Buzzfeed and The Kitchn, created by people who write for Buzzfeed and The Kitchn. (Here I digress just long enough to wholeheartedly endorse a rule listed on both sites which states that if you are assigned to bring a dish, bring it completely prepared — do not bring its components and assemble it in the host’s kitchen. Thank you, social network site writers, for validating my personal pet peeve.)

Southern Living has even gotten into the game, devoting a post to Friendsgiving recipes that look suspiciously like Thanksgiving recipes.

Robin prepares a dish of Thanks Con Carne.

So maybe our pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors doesn’t qualify as Friendsgiving anyway, because we don’t do the traditional turkey and sides. Either way, I like our plan much better. I have enough trouble cooking one turkey a year; I don’t want to do two in one month. Besides that, it will be July, and I will still manage to discover a Tupperware container of leftover turkey or sweet potato casserole in the back of the freezer — I don’t need more of the same from an identical dinner. Like a Disney sidekick, a bowl of chili provides a welcome relief to the barrage of leftovers on the one end and the barrage of preparations on the other.

Back to our pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors, whose names I will now reveal as Lisa and Andy. We take turns hosting and supplying the chili; Lisa makes Cincinnati-style, and I make halftime-style. We also supply kids, parents, and occasional surprise guests, and we always have a great evening, unmarred by the fact that we are practically trending — but not quite.

The only other snag in our Pre-Thanksgiving Chili Night with Neighbors is the clunky title. I admit that “Friendsgiving” is a whole lot catchier. So what shall we call it? “Chili Night” is too generic. “No Thanks-giving” is too harsh. Thanks Con Carne? Three Alarm Neighbors? Friends Five Ways?

Let me know, and I’ll start my own trend.

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