A few years ago when I was new to New York City and unable to make it home to Buffalo for Thanksgiving, I gladly accepted an invitation from a friend of mine, Rennie Coleman, an aspiring singer-songwriter. I'd heard his "orphan Thanksgivings" were legendary. And, even if it wasn't this year, I knew it would be better than sitting in my tiny apartment alone.
The Friendsgiving, as it's commonly known, is a dinner attended by a mishmash of people who don't have anywhere else to go and who would rather be a part of a community than a part of their couches. For millennials especially, who may not be able to travel home because of demanding work schedules or tight budgets (it's Christmas or Thanksgiving, but not both), being a part of this type of holiday can be special, delicious, and full of its own kind of nostalgia. There are often several people in attendance who don't know each other at all, and some who may not even know the host. But, this is a day about family, and that doesn't have to strictly mean blood relatives.
At Coleman's, no detail is overlooked: Candles are strategically placed around the room; fresh flowers in fall's striking red and orange hues complement the rainbow of food; and jazz standards play softly in the background. Every side dish — from your grandmother's mashed potatoes to the food blog of the moment's corn bread and broccoli rabe strata — finds its way onto the table. The dinner plates may not match, and there may not be enough cloth napkins to go around, but this is a Thanksgiving that feels like home.
When we sit down to talk about what goes into planning one of your own, Coleman stresses the importance of food memory and the ways we each bring our own tidbits of Thanksgiving dinner to his table. As sentimental as he may be about this holiday, it's obvious as soon as he starts talking about the meal that the turkey is paramount.