ODE TO FRIENDSGIVING
Let’s not wait until November’s fourth Thursday
To give thanks for, and also with a friend.
Today, tomorrow, Friendsgiving can be any such day.
Be thankful for each friendship and pray they never end.
(Inspired by poet, Charmaine J. Forde)
“It’s Friendsgiving, Friendsgiving, just the perfect blend of friends and giving;
When other Thanksgivings are soon forgot, Friendsgiving will still be hot.
A yada dada dada—hug hug hug.”
Pardon me, Cole Porter, for slicing your delicious “Friendship” lyrics (see below) like a juicy turkey, but I was imagining Lucy and Ethel giving that ode to good friends. (You’ll thank me for this: YouTube the season three episode of “I Love Lucy” titled “Lucy and Ethel Buy the Same Dress” where the great friends are one-upping each other in a duet of the Cole Porter classic. Then, also YouTube “Friendship” duetted by friends Judy Garland and Johnny Mercer, and for a trifecta, search for the song performed by Kermit the Frog with Robin the Frog. Following those friends singing “Friendship,” you and I can bring it home with our version after a few glasses of holiday wine this Friendsgiving and before the tryptophan causes us and our audience to doze off.
(Here’s where we sing) “When other Thanksgivings you wanna forgit, Friendsgiving will still be a hit.”
A yada dada dada–chomp chomp chomp.”
“FRIENDSGIVING,” according to merriam-webster.com, is “a blend of ‘friend’ and ‘Thanksgiving,’ and it refers to a large meal eaten with friends either on or near Thanksgiving…’Friendsgiving’ seems to be a relatively new word.”
(sing) “When other Thanksgivings get stiff and old, Friendsgiving still has laffs uncontrolled.
A yada dada dada—ha ha ha.”
Merriam-Webster indicates the first time the word “Friendsgiving” was written was in 2007. Others believe the writers of the television show “Friends” launched the concept of “Friendsgiving” when the pals at the Central Perk coffee shop found themselves stuck in NYC for a Thanksgiving sans fam and their third home, the java joint, closed for the holiday. HOLY MILES STANDISH!!
S.U.N.S. FRIENDSGIVING, “The JOYrontologist” proposes, goes back to ye olde days of the “Peanuts” pilgrims in the 1973 holiday special, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” Remember these great lines shared among those friends:
“I can’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner. All I can make is cold cereal and maybe toast.”—Charlie Brown
“Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. We should be thankful for being together.”–Marcie
“Are we going to say a prayer? It’s THANKS-giving, you know.”—Peppermint Patty
“Well, one of the greatest traditions we have is the Thanksgiving Day football game. And the biggest, most important tradition of all is the kicking off of the football.”—Lucy van Pelt
(here’s where we sing) “When other Thanksgivings are turkey tough, friends tell ‘em to all get stuffed.
A yada dada dada—chew chew chew.”
“Values are changing, too,” says Dr. Bella DePaulo, in “Why Friendships Matter,” (Psychology Today, Jan-February 2021). “A study by Henri Santos and colleagues tracked the rise of individualism in 78 nations over a half-century, including the valuing of friends over the valuing of family. Their findings suggest that in 74% of the nations with relevant data, more people over time are valuing friends more highly, relative to how highly they value family.”
S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) is an acronym “The JOYrontologist” developed after 40 years researching and studying “joyous aging.”
Keep these four, simple elements in mind as you gather this holiday.
S.U.N.S. FRIENDSGIVING (Smile-Making)
Expressing gratitude is linked to resilience and optimism. Dr. Robert A. Emmons, psychology professor at the University of California (Davis) and founding editor of the “Journal of Positive Psychology” promotes “thankfulness as good medicine.” Dr. Emmons’ research indicates repeatedly that practicing thankfulness can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels.
There have been more than 270 major studies on gratitude in the past two decades according to the John Templeton Foundation which doled out $27 million to fund more 20 of those projects. Taking opportunities to count our blessings, according to their research, makes people calmer and happier, raises self-esteem, strengthens marriages, increases productivity, prompts greater generosity, and triggers better self-care—we eat healthier, exercise healthier and are less likely to have harmful addictions.
“It’s really powerful to step ourselves in what we’re grateful for,” says Kristi Nelson, executive director of Gratefulness.com, a group committed to expressing thankfulness. Nelson says, “In a consumer culture, we’re driven to see what we don’t have, and social media is only making it worse. It can feel like we’re all living in some kind of substandard world, that something should be different.”
S.U.N.S. FRIENDSGIVING (Uniting)
We need to pause and think through the positive things we appreciate about those we are most deeply connected with, our friends and family, and what they add to our lives. Dr. Emmons advises, “Focus on what your partner is good at.” Sharing some genuine thankfulness to those important to you may well inspire them to improve other aspects of your relationships.
Dr. Jeffrey Froh, a psychologist at Hofstra University, underscores how valuable it is to help children express thankfulness. Per Dr. Froh, “The way you couch it to kids is: Be on the hunt for the good. Kids who are grateful have better relationships growing up, increased happiness and life satisfaction, more emotional and social support, do better in school, are less envious and less materialistic.”
S.U.N.S FRIENDSGIVING (Neighboring)
People who pause to be thankful give an average of 20% more time and money to NEIGHBORING charity causes. “Friendsgiving” gatherings often connect through a cause all support whether that is pets or politics. Per Dr. Emmons, “The thread of life can unravel very quickly, so we need memories of how we’ve been supported and sustained by other people.” Giving supports others living, and…caring is sharing.
MY THANKSGIVING “TURKEY TOSS” CONFESSION—I think it was the goofy ridiculousness of this charity event which appealed to me. Perhaps 10 years later, it is still cringe-inducing. The “Turkey Toss” involved me and some friends shot-putting real-but-THANK goodness-frozen turkeys across the parking lot of a shopping center in front of Belk and Books-A-Million. I didn’t win but did get a trophy and a bountiful sleighfull of guilt. I’ve forgotten the NEIGHBORING cause it benefited, but I’m rawtha certain it wasn’t preventing animal cruelty. Maybe it was a year when turkeys had been over-bred. Breaded?
S.U.N.S. FRIENDSGIVING (Spellbinding)
“Action Absorbs Anxiety” is a good mantra for holiday gatherings. If you’ve invited a friend or friends who might be uncomfortable into this social setting, assign them some task which will allow them to get outside their own head and be “in the zone.” Maybe before your “Friendsgiving,” ask for help. Who can be bartenders? Who could help make a salad from the ingredients you’ve gathered? Who might enjoy making “Friendsgiving” place-cards or table decorations? Btw, Pinterest has a cornucopia of “Friendsgiving” décor ideas and recipes.
Spellbinding for me can be about prayer and meditation but it more regularly, probably reflects my “do-bee” priority, about doing something, taking some action. I found these refashioned “Thankfulness,” actionable ideas in an article simply titled “Gratitude” from Washingtonian Magazine (December 2020—first holiday of the pandemic):
- THANKFULNESS JOURNAL: Weekly, write down five things for which you are thankful. Life coach, Sara Oliveri, suggest adding that good habit, including your reasons. She states, “That forces you to think deeply about the things you’re grateful for.”
- THANKFULNESS TALK: Some people also set up a time each week to talk with a close friends or partner to ask—“What was the highlight of your week?” This discussion quite naturally leads to a gratitude conversation.
- THANKFULNESS MEDITATION: Alice Hu, founder of the Washington, D.C. based wellness-focused Woo Woo Company, suggests sitting in silence while concentrating on one thing for which you are thankful. “Gratitude is a powerful tool that allows you to shift your energy,” says Hu.
- THANKFULNESS COUNTERFACTUALITY: Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University, recommends not just thinking of your blessings but imagining your life without them. As annoying as some of our friends and family can be, often when we imagine they have died, we experience feelings of sorrow, not joy.
- THANKFULNESS LETTER—Has some friend in the past made a huge, positive difference in your life? Again, Dr. Kashdan, “Really flesh out why something was so meaningful. Recognize the sacrifice someone has made. Talk about the downstream benefits of someone doing something for you. Telling them this creates a poignant moment between two people.”
- THANKFULNESS VISIT—You could take your “Thankfulness Letter” to an even deeper level by reading it to them. Dr. Kashdan adds: “Gratitude visits can be profound touchstones in a relationship.”
S.U.N.S. FRIENDSGIVINGS began as mostly informal events, but I’ve been to those that have pumpkin-spiced cider in a cardboard cup and others that were as fancypants as any my dear mother excruciatingly conjured and choreographed. The ultimate formula, whatever the design, is simply: FRIENDS + GIVING = JOY.
JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK
Nov. 19—Jodie Foster
Nov. 20—Dr. John
Nov. 21—Goldie Hawn
Nov. 22—Rodney Dangerfield
Nov. 23—Robin Roberts
Nov. 24—Dale Carnegie
Nov. 25—Amy Grant
FRIEND’S AWARDING-WINNING, CULLMAN-SEWN QUILT inspires CULLMAN-GROWN FRIENDSGIVING FRITTATA
My good friend, Concetta Lavoy Kreps, is, my words, not hers–“The Nick Saban of Alabama Quilters.” She is modest talking about her award-winning, eye-dazzling craft which is admired by in-the-know quilters across the USA. Truthfully, she’s had a better season than Coach Saban this autumn. In October, Concetta won first place among more than 50, North Alabama-and-beyond, gorgeous quilts in the highly anticipated, 41st Annual Quilt Show hosted by the Decatur Public Library. (see photo) ROLL TIDE or WAR EAGLE or whatever quilting fans roar—“UNRAVEL MY QUILT and I’LL RIP YOUR SEAMS OUT!!” Or, how about this gentler, FRIENDSGIVING quilting quote:
“In the quilt of life, friends are the stitches that hold it together.”
FRIENDSGIVING CULLMAN-GROWN FRITTATA inspired by CULLMAN-SEWN #1 QUILT
(Loaded Frittata recipe source: nytimes.com)
- 8 large eggs (Foundry Farm, east Cullman County)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste (with each add-in)
- 1/2 cup crumbled, cooked bacon (Brickyard Meats, Cullman)
- 1 cup diced onion (Five Oak Farm, Holly Pond)
- 2 cups diced bell peppers (J. Calvert Farms, Cold Springs)
- 1 cup chopped turnip greens (William Burks Farm, Fairview)
- 4 oz. fresh goat cheese (Humble Hearts, Vinemont)
- 4 tbsp. fresh herbs (choose parsley, oregano, tarragon or chives) from (East Elementary Outdoor Classroom supported by the North Alabama Agriplex)
- Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees first so it’s up to temperature when you’re ready to transfer your skillet from the stovetop.
- Use a skillet with an oven-safe base and handles. Some people prefer the consistent heat of cast iron, while others prefer the cooking and clean-up ease of non-stick. A 10-12” skillet is the right size for a 6-8 egg frittata.
- Pre-cook ingredients first. You want to sauté’ most of the add-ins (with a few exceptions like fresh herbs and tender greens such as spinach) before the eggs are added. Raw vegetables like onions and zucchini (which are mostly water) will leach liquid into the mixtures, and meats like sausage and bacon are always better browned. Fully cook ingredients like potatoes.
- Add milk to your egg base. Whisk whole milk.
- Add the egg mixture to the skillet once the add-ins are cooked. Use a spatula to combine everything, cook the mixture for a couple of minutes and then transfer to hot oven.
- Keep an eye on the frittata; cooking times can vary depending on add-ins. In a 350-degree oven, a 6-egg frittata will take 8-20 minutes. Remove the frittata when it’s just set. A finished frittata should be custardy, fluffy, just set and still pale in color—not browned and spongy.
“The JOYrontologist” recommends these sparkling wines to pair with “The Cullman-Grown Friendsgiving Frittata:” 2014 RECAREDO TERRERS BRUT NATURE which is created with organically farmed grapes in Spain. ($40, so get a friend not crushed in the trampling economy to bring this.) 2020 RAVENTOS I BLANC BLANC DE BLANC is crisp, vibrant and also comes from an estate which has been practicing biodynamic farming since 2001. ($20, so this is what I will be bringing to this year’s Friendsgiving.)
1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS FROM MY FIRST 70 YEARS (continued)
956. The Friendsgiving country anthem “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks
957. The friendship of Helen Keller and Mark Twain which I discovered reading their letters
958. The friendship of Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett proving the connection of laughter
959. The Friendsgiving theme song of “The Golden Girls” sit-com, “Thank You for Being a Friend”
960. The friendship of Napoleon Dynamite and Pablo Sanchez winning a school election
961. The friendship of Timon and Pumbaa laughing together in “The Lion King”
962. The friendship of Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter imagined by J. K. Rowling
963. The friendship of Woody and Buzz Lightyear overcoming their differences
964. The friendship of porn king, Larry Flynt, and conservative religious minister, Jerry Falwell
965. The friendship of Bill and Ted having excellent adventures
966. “Friendsgiving” at Ohio State University with 650 lbs. of turkey and 30 gallons of gravy
967. The friendship of Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee teaching us the value of loyalty
968. The friendship of American innovators Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, “thinking up”
969. The friendship of “Calvin and Hobbes” comics by Bill Waterson
970. The “Friendsgiving” of Squanto and the Pilgrims in 1621
“FRIENDSHIP” lyrics and music by Cole Porter
“If you’re ever in a jam, here I am.
If you’re ever in a mess, S.O.S.
If you ever feel so happy you land in jail, I’m your bail.
It’s friendship, friendship
Just a perfect blendship
When other friendships have been forgot
Ours will still be hot.
If you’re ever down a well, ring my bell
And if you’re ever up a tree, just phone to me.
If you ever lose our teeth and you’re out to dine,
It’s friendship, friendship
Just a perfect blendship
When other friendships have been forgate,
Ours will still be great……!” (now YouTube for more and perform at your Friendsgiving)
HAPPY FRIENDS + GIVING and THANKSGIVING WEEK!
Read all the installments in this series at www.cullmantribune.com/tag/odes-to-joy-2022.