If you’re like me, when you get invited to a “Friendsgiving,” you envision a kaleidoscope of mix-and-match chairs sitting impossibly cool people wearing impossibly cool hats discussing everything from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the benefits of tongue scrapers. They’re passing around biodynamic red wine and heaping piles of mashed potatoes that look like Grandma’s, but are actually vegan—making them decidedlyunlike Grandma’s. Enraptured in a copious supply of conversation and food, Friendsgiving is good times all around. You want to be there.
But with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I found myself wondering why the companion spin-off “Galentine’s Day” (Friendsgiving is to Thanksgiving what Galentine’s is to Valentine’s) made me feel the exact opposite.
In fact, you will not find me at Galentine’s. I’ve never gone and never will.
Originated as a day for single gals to bask in the beauty that is female friendship, today it sounds less empowering and more, well, apocalyptic. One mention of the word and it’s like you’re projecting my single status in flashing lights. I don’t need to “take back” my singlehood to make myself feel better. I’m fine being single. And honestly, the idea of sitting on a couch, watching a rom-com you’ve never been brave enough to say you don’t actually like (looking at you, 10 Things I Hate About You) and eating pizza when you really want Indian food because no one can say no to Emily, all hammers home the idea that being single is bad, when I don’t hold that to be true at all.
This left me questioning: What’s the difference between these two friend-focused events?
When it comes down to it, for me, the difference lies in my sense of pride. When I’m invited to a Friendsgiving, I’m screaming it from the rooftops. I’m excited about it. It’s cool. I want people to know I’m going. It’s like, if there were an “in crowd” in your 20s, they’d be at a Friendsgiving. And no matter how old you are or how many places you’ve lived, you want to sit down and feel like you were worth the invite.
The first time I attended a Friendsgiving, I not only came prepared with a homemade paleo banana bread but also spent a good amount of brainpower engineering how to snap a panorama of the table, its guests and my bomb outfit in one Instagram-compatible shot.
As the evening progressed, I small-talked on a white leather couch (goals), making nice with a girl who had just quit her job at a top-tier financial firm to pursue improv full-time, and thought to myself “Momma, I’ve made it.” Has anybody made a career off of improv? Probably not. But I felt surrounded by like-minded, motivated dreamers. This was the 20-something New York City I’d always dreamed of being a part of. Who knows? Maybe someday I’d host my own Friendsgiving.
And yet, I’ve never accepted one single Galentine’s Day invitation.
Why? Because for me it fuels the opposite of pride, which is shame. Should hanging out with your besties be wonderful and great? Yes. But Galentine’s is bait and switch 101. It promises supportive empowerment, but the aftertaste is loneliness. We’re hanging together not because we love each other, but because we’re single. It’s a pity party slapped with an “I’m totally fine” sticker on top. Tag me in a #Galentines photo and you’re basically broadcasting to the world the freak flag flying high above my head, written out in all caps “BAD AT LOVE AND OVERCOMPENSATES WITH FEMALE FRIENDSHIP.” And hold on, but why is there no GUY-entine’s day? It’s just another gendered stereotype of singledom I am not here for.
So what do I do come February 14?
Well, my friend group goes all out. We pick a restaurant we know everyone likes—a good bar and great music are a must. Someone makes a reservation; everyone else shows up with a game we can play at dinner. It sounds fun—I know—because it is. There’s nothing better than a co-ed mingling of your closest friends, choking on laughter over the terrible options you have to pick from in “Would You Rather” or “Most Likely To” and a buzzy toast on the last round of drinks to the people who make you feel loved, especially on love’s big day. Alas, and possibly most importantly, we do not call it Galentine’s.
So, the biggest difference between these two made-up days? Simple. It’s me. And it’s how I feel about myself. Showing up to Friendsgiving as myself is enough—it’s better than enough. And for that reason, I will not take part in a faux festivity that puts a Band-Aid on something I don’t consider a failure in the first place (it’s called singlism, people). Instead, I’ll surround myself with love and laughs in a way that’s authentic to me…and I’ll call it Pal-entine’s Day.
Let’s stop naming stuff and just enjoy ourselves because we’re only young and not in love in New York City once.
All the X’s. All the O’s. And every other letter in between.