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A whole new holiday tradition — Friendsgiving

By Paul Viau | Nov 23, 2016
Photo by: File photo FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS MISS FRIENDSGIVING — There's something to be said for the growing trend — especially among millennials — to celebrate ‘Friendsgiving.’ It's a party celebrating friends.

Once again, the very happiest of holiday seasons is upon us, starting with the stuff and stuffing we traditionally call Thanksgiving. This is a wonderful holiday that gives pause for all of us to reflect on the many things we are thankful for — from family, friends, success, and accomplishments to health, happiness and safe travels.

Back in the day, safe travel was all about the journey home to be with family for Thanksgiving, which calls to mind the poem turned song lyric, “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go.”

About the earliest I can remember traveling to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving was the year I graduated — from ‘the kiddie table’ to my first seat with the adults. This bigger, better table was packed with relatives from near and far, and I recall being tickled pink to be in their company.

Sadly, most of those relatives are no longer with us, so we mourn their loss and give thanks for the many great years we got to share with them.

These days — with families stretched out all over the USA and beyond — there isn’t as much travel “over the river and through the woods.” Blame it on the cost of gasoline, the hassle of air travel (spelled T.S.A.) and the fact that so many of us stay connected all year long through e-mail and social media.

With fewer family members close-by, there is also a growing trend — especially among millennials — to celebrate a new-fangled holiday called ‘Friendsgiving.’

Friendsgiving is a party celebrating friends. It’s not necessarily a celebration about the bounty of the harvest, like Thanksgiving, but more about celebrating the people — other than family — that mean a lot to you.

In contrast to Thanksgiving, which centers around dinner — usually roast turkey, all the trimmings and pumpkin pie for dessert, Friendsgiving parties may not be sit-down dinners — just close friends sharing their favorite potluck foods, beverages and, of course, good company.

For most, Friendsgiving is not a replacement for Thanksgiving, but an added event scheduled on another day so it won’t conflict with ‘the most traditional of family gatherings.’

As proponents of Friendsgiving say, “You can’t pick your family, but you sure can choose your own friends.”

I first learned about Friendsgiving from Highland Brewing’s marketing coordinator, Molly McQuillan.

She gets together for Friendsgiving each year, with a close group of friends. Her contributions to the gathering are two cases of Highland’s signature Cold Mountain Winter Ale — one case of the newest release, and one case of last year’s brew. By the way, McQuillan said she goes to Ingles and buys the case after the release, just like we do.

Since the spice notes of Cold Mountain vary slightly every year — just as their lives do — the beer tasting gets everyone talking and sharing.

Now that I think about it, the NC Viaus do a similar Friendsgiving beer sharing, inviting friends to share our Thanksgiving dinner, and taste-testing a variety of festive winter ales, including Cold Mountain Winter Ale.

By the way, if you have not yet tried this year’s 20th anniversary Cold Mountain Winter Ale and the kicked-up, Imperial Cold Mountain Winter Ale, you are missing out on perhaps the best year ever for Cold Mountain Winter Ale.

Also the best this year, thanks to Molly McQuillan and Highland Brewing’s team, was the uber-organized, smooth as silk, distribution of Cold Mountain Winter Ale to the huge crowds that lined up at the brewery for release on Veterans Day weekend.

The lines moved quickly, check out was swift and staff was ready with a fleet of hand-trucks. Highland’s taproom was also set for the 4 p.m. opening, with the bar filled with pre-poured cups of Cold Mountain for all the revelers.

All-in-all, Highland really shined.

And speaking of really shining, Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of our favorite TV series on HGTV — “Fixer Upper,” have also jumped on the Friendsgiving bandwagon. The premier fall issue of Magnolia Journal magazine includes a feature on Friendsgiving, complete with tips on tablescapes, name placards, recipes and the all-important drink center.

Speaking of drinks, this year I will lift a glass at our Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving dinner, and toast to all of you who read my column, and all those whose stories continue to impress and inspire me.

Happy Thanksgiving — and Friendsgiving to all. Cheers.