Gobblerfest:: Not Your Average Friendsgiving Tradition

Gobblerfest:: Not Your Average Friendsgiving Tradition

This past Saturday, I hosted the 20th annual Gobblerfest at my home with roughly 15 friends. “What is Gobblerfest”, you say? The origin of Gobblerfest dates way back to the fall of 2000 when I was a freshman at Texas A&M University and cooked up {pun intended} the idea of hosting a Thanksgiving dinner amongst friends that year before we all went home for the holidays. The idea was to give thanks for the wonderful friendships and memories we all shared at A&M.

My roommates and I weren’t sure what to expect that first year. I mean, let’s call it what it is…none of us exactly knew our way around a kitchen very well and certainly didn’t have experience in the Thanksgiving turkey department. After we all called home for various family recipes and words of wisdom, we ended up cooking an entire traditional Thanksgiving dinner complete with a 20 pound turkey, 10 pound ham, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and rolls. It was quite a feast! {Pro-tip:: If you’ve never cooked a turkey in one of Reynold’s turkey oven bags, you’re not living your best life and are over-complicating your holiday cooking routine. I promise you they are completely idiot proof and you end up with a perfectly moist and tender turkey that looks like you spent hours basting and babysitting it in your kitchen. This idea was a suggestion from my roommate’s mom and nearly 20 years later, and I’m still cooking my annual turkey in a Reynold’s oven bag!}.

Gobblerfest:: Not Your Average Friendsgiving TraditionAn Annual Celebration

Anyway, Gobblerfest soon became an annual celebration with all of us, each year with more people and more food. I am definitely the self-appointed “Queen of Gobblerfest” and the event has adapted, morphed and even traveled with me throughout my 20’s and now my 30’s. Gobblerfest has been held in College Station, San Marcos, San Antonio, Houston, Milwaukee, & even London, England! For eight Gobblerfests, we even had t-shirts printed with various themes. My husband has been a part of Gobblerfest for 12 of the past 19 years and he is a terrific sport about the whole thing – even the brain child behind some of our very best shirt ideas! He knows that it’s a part of who I am and non-negotiable that it’s happening every year.

Embracing the True Spirit of Thanksgiving

Gobblerfest 2005 was when I realized how special the tradition was and why it meant so much to me. It was to be held in San Antonio that year because I was in graduate school in San Marcos and had a tiny apartment that had no business hosting that many people. So two very dear friends of mine from college who were actually at the first Gobblerfest back in 2000 had volunteered to host it at their home in San Antonio. As we were driving home from picking up several items at the store for the event that was to be held the following day is when I got the call that my grandmother who I was very close to had suddenly passed away. I needed to get home right away but my friends didn’t skip a beat and still held Gobblerfest at their home the following day, even welcoming a couple of people they really didn’t know into their home. Still having the event without me embodied the true spirit of Gobblerfest – supporting friends in times of need and giving thanks for those friends and the wonderful relationships we enjoy.

Gobblerfest Memories

 

I still have favorite memories from each and every Gobblerfest. The guest list has changed virtually every year as friends have come and gone and as I have moved through the various seasons of my life. When all of us started having children, Gobblerfest was a family affair. Gobblerfest 2015 was particularly special because it was the first Gobblerfest that my son attended, which felt very surreal. A crazy idea for a dinner party in college with friends was now being passed on to the next generation and that felt pretty cool. Gobblerfest 2018 was also special because it was on that night that we told our close friends that we were expecting our second son which was pretty amazing. Now that many of us have recognized that sometimes we just want a kid-free night with friends, we secure sitters for the evening and enjoy letting loose, often ending the evening with an impromptu dance party in my kitchen.

So why am I telling you all of this?
Gobblerfest:: Not Your Average Friendsgiving Tradition

Prioritize Connection

My point about sharing the history and evolution of Gobblerfest is that I believe we all need more Gobblerfests and similar traditions with friends right now. In a time of great divide in our society, social media overload, and ridiculously over-connected lives, we need to prioritize having more opportunities to gather with friends, break bread, and celebrate each other in person. And when we do, I hope we gather with open minds and hearts and stop all of the nonsense. STOP putting on the brave faces and acting like everything is as perfect as it looks on social media. STOP pretending that you can do it all. STOP pretending to have it all figured out. START talking with friends about how you are REALLY doing. And START letting your guard down with friends to be a human being again instead of your entire identity being wrapped up in being a parent.

I worry about the pressure that all of us endure as parents these days and the continual “shaming” that we face for one ridiculous reason or another.  It isn’t healthy and at some point, something’s got to give. But it is the friend tribe around us that will get us through the tough times and be there to celebrate with us during the good times. So think about your own Gobblerfest-type opportunities that you have to create everlasting traditions with your friends and give thanks.  No time is better than the present.

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