We couldn’t wait to go … nowhere.
Michal and I typically return to the Detroit area for Thanksgiving to celebrate with our families because we have always been close to them – both in proximity and relationship. When we were away in undergrad at Michigan State, our drive was only about an hour and a half. And, later, when we lived in the Chicago area, our drive lengthened to about four and a half hours, but still manageable after leaving work.
However, this year, being a five-hour plane ride away and having just been in Michigan for a wedding last month and with plans to visit for Christmas next month, the trip didn’t seem cost-effective. Not to mention, Michal was coming down with a cold and he had a lot of case interview prep and cover letters to do over break.
So, for the first time, we stayed right where we were and had a Friendsgiving.
It was a bit difficult anticipating Thanksgiving without our usual routine. We have always looked forward to the endless amount of Filipino, Polish and American dishes that we couldn’t emulate on our own based on traditions and expertise we have yet to learn. And we love reuniting with our high school and college buddies who are all usually scattered across the nation except on the holidays.
But as I ended my two-day workweek and Michal came home from class on Tuesday, we were relishing the ability to breathe a sigh of relief: We didn’t have to rush into the balmy weather, nor did we need to face the traffic resembling a parking lot out on Emmett Street. And we quickly discovered that we would not be as lonely (or as hungry) as we thought we would be.
In fact, we had around five different feasts within the week of Thanksgiving that brought our new friends together.
A Darden professor, native of the Philippines, invited us and other Filipino students and partners for a potluck dinner with homemade classics like the noodle dish pancit and chicken adobo. Michal’s SY-matched Learning Team hosted a brunch buffet for his group and partners. International students put out an open-invite on Facebook to hang out at the Pavilion apartment complex club house. Another FY couple with parents who live nearby organized a tailgate for the final home football game of the season. And, lastly, Michal and I invited friends from our church, my UVA co-workers and some Darden FY students and partners for appetizers and desserts at our apartment.
We discovered that we had absolutely nothing to worry about when it came to celebrating our First Friendsgiving. In the end, we were right where we needed to be – in our new home in Charlottesville.