The Case for Doing Thanksgiving With Your "Found Family"

How to Do Friendsgiving



Chelsea Miller is a model, fitness junkie, and advocate for changing the way we talk about health and curvy bodies. She writes about working out, health, her skincare obsessions, and more on her blog, Watch Her Glow, and we’re thrilled to have her as a contributor for THE/THIRTY. This month, she explains why she started doing Thanksgiving with her friends rather than her family—and why she hasn't looked back.

It's holiday season, and with that comes friends, family, fun, and stress. For far too long, I was a victim of doing too much and being pulled in too many directions. It's bad enough that we have so much to do (shopping, cooking, cleaning, planning, wrapping, decorating, and working)—we also worry have to worry about money, because depending on who you're shopping for, it can get really expensive.

I personally come from a very large family; I have seven brothers and sisters, five-ish in-laws, one niece and one nephew and countless cousins (and their children). In previous years, my boyfriend and I would have three or more Thanksgiving meals at three different houses in an attempt to please all of those around us.

We usually started at my mom's house with a few of my siblings, then drove an hour to my dad's house to have a second meal with my youngest siblings and cousins, and then drove another hour back home to see my boyfriend's family. I also felt the need to contribute to the meals, so I was preparing dishes for each of these houses too. Just thinking about it now puts a little pit in my stomach.

But it's easy to justify why we do this: "The holidays are meant to be spent with your family." "It's only one day out of the year that we get together like this." I did it myself up until three years ago—and not just for Thanksgiving. I also did this for Christmas and Christmas Eve.

But one year I had enough, and I toyed with the idea of going on vacation over Christmas instead of doing the whole family thing. Unfortunately, my boyfriend wasn't on board with that particular holiday, so I went for the next-best thing: Thanksgiving!

We decided to start doing something fun that we would look forward to with friends, and we've done this for three years now. We find a cute and cozy cabin in the mountains and have a Friendsgiving.

The Case for Doing Friendsgiving


Courtesy of Chelsea Miller

We prefer to have a less stressful and more enjoyable meal, so we don't have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner—we do whatever sounds good to us at the time. (This year we're having tacos!) No more spending all day in the kitchen prepping and worrying about everything being just right. No more driving all over town to make everyone in our families happy.

Instead, we get away from the hustle and bustle of town with just our dogs and our friends. We play in the snow, eat, drink, go on walks, bundle up by the fire, and play games. I've never in my life felt so good about being selfish and saying no to family. I still have friends who cannot fathom leaving their family to hang out with friends, and I understand that, but I do think people can do less. You don't have to do or say yes to everything.

Don't be afraid to say no to people, parties, or events, and instead, give more of yourself to things that are more important to you. If you feel good and are happy and stress-free, it will be easier for you to enjoy the things you say yes to. Now, seeing my family and running around at Christmas is less stressful for me, and I enjoy the chaos a bit.

Next up: Speaking of stress, a neurologist says that this is the best workout for alleviating anxiety.