A four-day weekend stands out in a college student’s calendar months in advance thanks to a seemingly never-ending semester. For some students, Thanksgiving break is the first weekend of the school year they get to see their family. Others, however, can’t afford to visit home, or stick around to count down the days for opening day at ski resorts who traditionally open their slopes right around Thanksgiving.
Wasatch Magazine staff, University of Utah student media staff, and friends of both groups got together for their first annual Friendsgiving, up in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The idea for Friendsgiving was inspired by the notion of having a Thanksgiving we could share with our friends in the outdoors, rather than focusing on a cornucopia, turkey, and stuffing that we’ve all experienced too many times in traditional Thanksgiving celebrations.
Throughout the years, outdoor Friendsgivings have sprung up all over in places such as Capitol Reef National Park, Alta and Snowbird ski resorts, and as sporadic desert parties. For some, the allure of spending a four-day weekend in the outdoors is a bigger draw than waiting in line for Black Friday sales or having awkward conversations with that uncle that you don’t really know but you should really say something to while you both reach for the Thanksgiving rolls.
It might sound impossible to have a Thanksgiving feast in the outdoors. How are you supposed to cook the food? How do you deal with the cold or impending snow storms?
The answer is: by having a potluck! Who said it was wrong to have roasted hot dogs as a Thanksgiving side? While the homemade pasta, salad, rolls, and pumpkin pie gave us a taste of Thanksgiving, it was wrapping up the evening by roasting s’mores with good friends that truly made Friendsgiving special. The smell of fire on our clothes was almost as comforting as the smell of a big turkey slow cooking in Grandma’s oven.
Instead of sitting around the TV watching football, try bouldering, playing cards around the fire, or going on night hikes. It’s no wonder that folks choose to have Thanksgiving in Capitol Reef National Park, a Dark Skies certified park whose best constellations come out in the fall.
One drawback of going out on a trip to have a Friendsgiving is the concern that Thanksgiving is meant for families to spend time with each other, catching up on current events and what happened in everyone’s lives since the last Thanksgiving. Well, at Friendsgiving, you can get to know your friends more intimately, and even get to know some new faces! It’s so fun to share stories all through the night about best and worst Thanksgiving traditions, best National Park trips, and what happened in your life since the last Thanksgiving.