Friendsgiving is such a strange term. All I can see is the cast of Friends, Ross, Monica, Joey, Rachel, Chandler, and Phoebe sitting down to a very late turkey dinner after some emotional struggle almost crashed their friendship. Isn’t that what all the episodes were about? A relationship issue that threatened to destroy the”Friends” bond. Be Sure To PIN FOR Later!
What is Friendsgiving?
The term Friendsgiving plagued me all last year. I finally asked a millennial to explain it to me.
“Just friends getting together for Thanksgiving instead of going to their families,” she said.
“Oh yeah,” I thought, “this is what we did in college when we could not get home for Thanksgiving. We went to friends or distant relatives houses who lived closer.”
The Urban Dictionary Defines it as:
I would not have chosen the friend’s house over my family for Thanksgivning without the distance between us. Or would I?
Addiction Isolates Families
As active addiction (my co-dependence and rage, my husband’s drug use) began its ugly downward spiral in my marriage I befriended a young couple without children.
Married for a while and wanting kids this young Christian couple began to babysit for my then 18-month-old son. Loving the sound of children this couple babysat for a number of couples in the area.
Not only did this kind couple babysit for me, they invited me into their busy social life. My boy and I were often invited to sledding parties, over for dinner, and other outings with their many friends and other kids. At the time my family lived on 20 acres in a rural area of Colorado which is pretty isolating even without a toddler.
Despite just creating a second child my husband and I were not communicating very well. He worked night and day to build our house and hold down a job. I worked parttime, cared for our toddler and brewed another baby. My rage and depression mounted while his drug use increased and we both began to disappear into separate lives.
For a while, the busyness of a new baby and house sustained my marriage. The tasks in front of us keep us united in an active way. That fall, my husband took a three-month cooking job with a hunting outfit about 2 hours away from home. I fell apart at first, but then I was relieved. The tension left the day he did.
Friendsgiving Shares the Burdens of Life
We (the boys and I) went to see him once a week and he came home to sleep and refuel about once a week. For short periods my husband and I could focus on the boys while being kind to each other.
During the day the boys and I played, danced, napped, did the feeding chores and occasionally went to town 22 long miles away. The long evenings were hard.
To say I was lonely was an understatement. Dinner conversation with an infant and two-year-old centers on grunts and giggles.
I began to invite my young couple friends over for dinner more and more often. A routine began to form. At least once a week I made dinner for everyone either at their house or mine.
We shared a meal, the events of our days, played with the boys and supported each other. We began to call these “family dinners”.
My couple friends desperately wanted children, which I had; and I desperately wanted a healthy marriage and a functioning partnership with other adults.
God sets the lonely in families Psalm 68:6
During these years my husband and I were either angry or disengaged from each other. I did not want to end yet another marriage. This once a week “Friendsgiving” dinner gave me enough joy and comfort to keep mothering my children and crying out to God for a change in our lives.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance. Psalm 68:9
This connection that grew deeper over the years was never meddlesome or lived out in darkness. My friends graciously accepted my husband and offered to him the same kindness they offered to me when he was available for “family dinners” or outings.
My girlfriend was a child of a recovering alcoholic. She understood the al-anon terms I brought home from meetings. She listened without judgment, loved me unconditionally and never said an ugly word about my husband.
Her husband became the brother I never had and the male role model to my children my husband could not be at the time. The boys always ran into their house yelling his name and wanting to “wrestle”. Boys need strong Godly men to lead in a way that Mom’s just can’t.
Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor. Psalm 68:9-10
The bounty of this friendship overflowed my soul and made my out of control life bearable until God was ready to heal our marriage. Or shall I say, we were ready to let God heal our marriage?
God through his loving kindness gave me a way to have a family, stay faithful to my marriage and a set of GodParents to nurture my children when their own parents were depleted.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
For many, many years my friends and I held “Friendsgiving” once a week. A real meal with dessert and coffee laced with deep love and friendship.
Then God moved in a mighty way. Through intense trial, my marriage was saved. Within that same year, two foster children needing a home began to live with my sweet friends. An equally intense adoption process followed finally leaving both families with full houses. My husband and I healing from our hurts, habits and hang-ups and my childless friends with a full house.
Our God is a God who saves; Psalm 68:28
Loneliness Filled by God And His People
Loneliness in addiction is real. If you are struggling with a situation I urge you to not only turn immediately to God but also to the community. Solid Christian Community, please read So You Married An Addict: Self Care.
During the time of active addiction in my household, I did not depend solely on my faithful couple friends. I attended regular al-anon meetings, joined a supportive church, built other friendships and a had a strong relationship with my sponsor and God. I added counseling and intensive Bible study groups during the complete collapse of our marriage.
No human or even two can keep another human afloat alone. Everyone needs community. God designed us that way.
Families Are Not Always Blood
My family is blessed with a few really deep friendships that we cherish. God provided this dear young couple at just the right time. He also provided a full quiver of children in that young couples home when I needed to fully refocus on my own home. Two miracles, one great God. To say I did not grieve the changing of the relationship would be a lie.
God moved and I needed to respond by letting go of my tight hold of the Friendsgiving lifeline and trusting Him to rebuild my broken marriage from the rubble left by addiction and co-dependence.
Letting Go and Letting God is always part of Healing
Just like the last season of Friends, our family’s friendship with the young couple is far from over. As the friendship evolves, we now enjoy our Friendsgiving with 8 dynamic personalities.
Crazy how God takes a tragedy and turns it into a blessing.
God, You are awe-inspiring in Your sanctuaries.
The God of Israel gives power and strength to His people.
May God be praised! Paslm 68:35