In the South, family isn’t always just your blood kin. It’s also made up of the people we choose to make part of our families. Otherwise known as friends. So we love the growing tradition of Friendsgiving. The idea is you spend a holiday meal with more than just Uncle Joe and Aunt Martha. Invite everyone over, cook some great food, share some holiday cheer and spend time with the friends you love.
Four years ago, some brave foodie friends of our Molly Wilkins started their own Friendsgiving tradition. Alex and Eleta Morrison are the couple behind the blog Bungalow Kitchen, and open their home for many occasions. But this one has grown each year and is not to be missed. Here’s Molly’s report on one Friendsgiving, and how her friends got started.
“The first year was 2012, and it was the first real Thanksgiving we were in our house. And we had been married not quite a year and as part of our new family we wanted to create our own Thanksgiving tradition and it be as inclusive to everyone,” said Eleta. “And it’s not a religious holiday, it’s American and that would be a fun way to kick off the holiday season with our friends. The first year, we had a lot of people come and we were blown away- and each year it’s been a really good crowd. We’ve done it every year we’ve been married.”
I’m not sure how Eleta and Alex were surprised, they are amazing people and perfect hosts! There’s always more food than you think can be consumed, somehow we manage to clean our plates. It’s hard work what with the casserole dishes filled with roasted veggies, spinach casserole, grits casserole, a beautiful beet salad, green bean casserole, dressing, multiple types of cranberry relish- are y’all hungry yet? Oh, and you can’t have a Southern thanksgiving meal without deviled eggs.
This #holiday season I'm grateful for friends like @eleta_am & @j_alexmorrison who invite us over for their annual #Friendsgiving. People of all ages & races & cross-sections of our town all convening under one roof to share in the fellowship of food and fun I always meet someone new at these dinners. This year it was Lauren, who is new to #Macon by way of a job at @historicmacon. It wasn't until we had been talking for several minutes that we realized we are also @alphadeltapi sisters- I love making discoveries like that This event always kicks off my holidays- and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. How do you jump start your holidays Love to all y'all ~ Molly
And then there’s the king of it all: the turkey. Two of them, in fact. Alex is quite the maestro of the grill: a traditional oven roasted turkey AND a bacon and brown sugar smoked one.
“ The first year we had about 50 people, and the last two was about 60, and this time was about 75,” said Eleta. “It’s cool because we usually invite over 150 people knowing not everyone can come. But our policy between Alex and me is we want to invite our friends and whoever can come, comes, and we want to invite as many people as possible even in our small house. I think the closeness of people forces people to interact, even if they didn’t know each other.”
It’s always fun to hear the stories behind the foods people bring: a grandmother’s recipe for pecan pie. Some items have become traditions of their own, such as BJ’s sweet potatoes, with their toasted mini marshmallows, and presented in orange rinds. (Grab those quick otherwise they will be gone.) You’ve also got the creative types who take a traditional pecan pie and twist it up with a pecan & bacon crust.
I put Eleta on the spot a little bit and asked her what her favorite sides were this year. “A couple of people brought roasted brussels sprouts, and to me that’s Thanksgiving. I love that Saralyn brought traditional cornbread dressing and gravy, and she’s such as great cook we were lucky to have her. Betsy brought cracked pie from Dovetail- I think that one was hiding in the kitchen. But then there were really traditional ones like green bean casserole. It’s so basic but it’s so good. I love that those are foods that those of us who are health conscious don’t eat except this time of year- cause it’s carbalicious heaven. The tummy ache can be worth it sometimes.”
Even better than the food is the chance to meet someone new. “I think at any party you can ask how you know the host… but here you can ask someone you don’t know, what did you make? And then it’s how did you get the recipe, oh it’s from my grandmother, “said Eleta. “I think food is such a natural conversation starter. I love seeing our friends interact who maybe didn’t know each other before. that makes me so happy to watch that happen.”