Friendsgiving: Not Just for Millennials

Friends become increasingly important to health and happiness as people age, according to new research in the journal Personal Relationships. They’re so crucial, in fact, that having supportive friendships in old age was found to be a stronger predictor of wellbeing than having strong family connections. Amanda MacMillan, Time, June 2017

All the more reason for we older folks to get in on the act of celebrating Friendsgiving, the now 10-year-old term that connotes the sharing of Thanksgiving, on or near the actual holiday, with our pals—not necessarily to the exclusion of also joining family at some point.

According to Brandi Neal, Bustle, Friendsgivings were first popularized in this country in relation to economic woes experienced by recent college grads living away from home who couldn’t afford to make it back to see their families. As a result, many people now associate Friendsgiving with Millennials only.

Or “Peanuts” characters.

Or old episodes of Friends.

But younger adults aren’t the only ones who can appreciate a good Friendsgiving. On the other hand, we older folks may sometimes lack the ready-made social resources of our less aged counterparts.

Julie Beck, The Atlantic: “As people enter middle age, they tend to have more demands on their time, many of them more pressing than friendship. After all, it’s easier to put off catching up with a friend than it is to skip your kid’s play or an important business trip. The ideal of people’s expectations for friendship is always in tension with the reality of their lives, [Professor William] Rawlins says.”

William Rawlins is the author of at least a couple academic books on friendship. Further explanation about his findings: “Rawlins says that any new friends people might make in middle age are likely to be grafted onto other kinds of relationships—as with co-workers, or parents of their children’s friends—because it’s easier for time-strapped adults to make friends when they already have an excuse to spend time together. As a result, the ‘making friends’ skill can atrophy.”

What about the friendships that do last throughout significant parts of our adulthood? Or why they don’t? More from Beck:

…seems to come down to dedication and communication. In Ledbetter’s longitudinal study of best friends, the number of months that friends reported being close in 1983 predicted whether they were still close in 2002, suggesting that the more you’ve invested in a friendship already, the more likely you are to keep it going. Other research has found that people need to feel like they are getting as much out of the friendship as they are putting in, and that that equity can predict a friendship’s continued success.

Notable Quotes About Friendship to Remember This Coming Friendsgiving

Friends are the family you choose. Jess C. Scott

Friendship is a relationship with no strings attached except the ones you choose to tie, one that’s just about being there, as best as you can. Julie Beck

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. Muhammad Ali

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over. Octavia Butler

We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help us stay young. Letty Cottin Pogrebin

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow. Alice Walker

The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away. Barbara Kingsolver

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