Scruffy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a high expectations holiday. Family time-allotment and travel planning begins in July. A veritable arm-wrestling contest of “who’s turn is it” ensues. Pinterest overflows with crafty ways to decorate all house corners with every scrap of anything available. Mix in the preconceived notions each individual has of the “perfect” Thanksgiving and it’s a recipe for a complete meltdown.

Here’s my solution. Opt out of trying to make it all work with family from far and wide. And, opt in to having a “Friendsgiving” right here in Bend.

While the idea of Friendsgiving has been around for a long time, it only entered our lexicon a little over a decade ago. It originated as an alternative to Thanksgiving for those who couldn’t—for whatever reason—be with family on that day. As with many trendy things, it’s begun to display the same stress as the original on the long, fully-decorated, dining room table. 

Last year’s Friendsgiving saw each guest greeted at the door by a Pilgrim or a Native American in hopes that—over a dinner painstakingly recreated from the original—a meaningful conversation about how things could’ve been so different should ensue.

The year before included five completely different full turkey dinners—from the Turkey 1,753 Ways recipes— set on five differently-decorated tables for each person’s choice of seating and menu. Then, they devised a personality profile based on the selections and encouraged everyone to talk about their feelings. That did not help.

Here’s the new plan. It’s a cross between Friendsgiving and Scruffy Hospitality—also a “thing.” 

Scruffy Hospitality, a term coined by an Anglican Priest named Jack King, suggests that nothing be done to change the tidiness or décor of the house, save for the bathroom. It also dictates the host and guests are to bring only items already in the cupboards or refrigerator in preparation for the meal. Round out the evening with game night—but only with games already in your possession.

Most importantly, make sure your guest list is on-board. Nothing will make it all fall apart like your friend showing up dressed to the nines carrying her latest culinary creation and custom-made, monogrammed decorations for each attendee. Instead, invite people who “get it.” Friends who want to take the time to learn more about each other, to dream about possibilities, to play games without competition and, most of all, to be thankful.

Many of you can pull off that last part while still providing a magazine-worthy spread, and I applaud you. I’ve seen it accomplished with ease and am more than impressed. For the rest of us, however, a Scruffy Friendsgiving it will be. 

And thankfully so.