The first non-spooky holiday of the season is just a few days away and that means it’s time for a big decision: Should you go home for Thanksgiving, or stay in New York? Your parents are dropping hints, anyway; if you went home you could see the family, get a home-cooked meal, take a break from the city… sure seems tempting, right?
Wrong! Welcome to the smear campaign on family Thanksgivings. I’m here to tell you that, despite what the media and Charlie Brown want you to think, Thanksgiving is a holiday best spent right here in New York City amongst your friends. Maybe you’re on the fence about leaving town; even if you’re from Brooklyn, the trek to Mill Basin or to your aunt’s place in Long Island can seem like too much for you. Either way, we put together eight reasons why staying in celebrating Friendsgiving in New York is way better than going home, wherever home is, along with reasonable excuses you can use when the relatives start to needle you about it.
Traveling is terrible, especially for the holidays.
Getting out of New York is never great, whether you’re dealing with traffic, or Penn Station, or a flight out of Queens (or, God forbid, Newark). But Thanksgiving is the absolute worst time to travel because unlike Christmas — where there’s a least a little wiggle room — almost everyone is trying to leave town on the same Wednesday. That means the tickets are expensive, the lines are extra long and there are people everywhere. I mean, they made a whole movie about it. Plus, we all know that Thanksgiving is way too close to Christmas, anyway — who wants to go home twice in one month?
Use this excuse: “I couldn’t get a flight out of the city for less than $1,200 roundtrip, and you know I’m saving up for grad school.”
Going home makes you feel like a teenager again
So let’s say you do get home. All of a sudden, the independence you’ve worked so hard to achieve seems to fade away. It’s just a bizarre fact of life that going back to your parents’ house, and sleeping in your childhood bedroom if they kept it, makes you revert back to the very age you were when you moved out. It doesn’t matter anymore that you got that promotion, because you’re arguing with your dad about which towels to use in the bathroom again. It doesn’t matter that you’ve lived independently for years now, because suddenly you’ve been Freaky Friday-ed into an infinite loop of morning cartoons and breakfast leftovers. You might even develop your old bacne again.
Use this excuse: “Spending a holiday alone could be an important step in my path towards personal and financial independence.”
(Wow, remember when times were so much simpler back in 2016? This piece of advise hasn’t been updated for the sake of nostalgic posterity.)
It’s harder to avoid conversations about politics
Yes, the election will (thank God) be over by Thanksgiving, but there’s still gonna be at least one uncle that has something to say about it. Political conversations with family are always rough, but this year is sure to be unbearable. Oh, your uncle who thinks the bird flu was a hoax now also thinks the election was rigged? Unlike a Thanksgiving spent with friends, you can’t just leave dinner whenever you want and take the subway home to your own bed, because there is no subway and your uncle isn’t leaving until, at best, after pie.
Use this excuse: “Trust me, it’s better for everyone if I don’t see Uncle Frank until after Hillary is sworn in.”
Throwing your own party is more fun
Staying in the city for Thanksgiving isn’t all just about the negatives of going home. Because you know who doesn’t make you feel like a 17-year-old or make you explain why Donald Trump is bad? Your friends. Your chosen friends. And if you stay in New York, you get to spend the holiday with them! You can invite whoever you want, leave whenever you want and it’s one of the few times when it really makes sense to have people over, make a nice meal and just chill instead of going out and spending tons of money bar hopping. Plus, people come from all over to be a part of the New York food scene, so chances are you know at least one of them and maybe they want to make a gourmet turkey? Maybe even some weird bacon-infused brussel sprouts or a ramen-turkey or something that your fellow Brooklynites would be more game to try than your extended family.
Use this excuse: “I need to get in some practice hosting my own dinner so I can help cook next year.”
You can drink!
Maybe the best part of throwing a Friendsgiving is that you can act however you want without worrying about what your parents think. You don’t need to be all self-conscious about your habits in front of your friends because they know you’re a filthy animal! You can go as wild as you would on a normal Thursday of a four-day weekend and not have to have an awkward conversation about whether or not you have a problem. Maybe there are certain other mind-altering ways you could enhance your turkey-eating experience that you’d feel more comfortable doing around your friends than around your family. Not that I’m advocating for it.
Use this excuse: “I have a lot of work to do, I think I’d better just stay in and buckle down that whole weekend.”
New York is better when it’s empty
Most of the city’s residents will be gone for Thanksgiving, or at least roosting indoors. And if you do decide to leave the house, you can enjoy a gleaming, ghost town of a city without bumping into a thousand people. There are barely any tourists in town, either, so go check out Times Square and pretend there’s been some kind of Trump-related apocalypse! If you get tired of just wandering around, you can head to one of the many bars that will still be open that night (tip extra, folks, it’s a holiday) that are probably more fun than the one in your hometown where you’ll just run into old high school acquaintances. Maybe your roommates will even be gone and you can walk around naked the next morning like a goddamn American!
Use this excuse: “It’s been a trying couple of months in New York, and I’m really looking forward to experiencing the city on my own terms for once this weekend.”
Come on, think about it. Every time you leave for Thanksgiving, you have the experience of waking up from your turkey coma the next day to find your Instagram feed LIT with all the fun your friends who stayed in town were having. There’s nothing quite like waking up in your too-small childhood bed, checking your phone and seeing all your closest friends forming memories, eating incredible food and drawing hand-turkeys. Don’t let that happen again! Even if you don’t throw your own party, there are usually at least two or three Friendsgivings going on in a given six-degrees friend group, so you can hop around to friends’ and friends of friends’ places and make others jealous of all your sweet hand-turkeys.
Use this excuse: “I would come home, but some very promising professional connections invited me to a networking dinner that night.”
Acknowledge Thanksgiving for what it really is
Thanksgiving makes America’s history and relationship with Native Americans seem much more fun and yam-centered than it really is, but somehow that’s never an easy conversation at family gatherings. But if you stay in the city and celebrate with friends, you can actually have a conversation about it. Afterwards, the corny taking-a-day-to-be-thankful thing might suddenly feel a little more meaningful; being surrounded by your chosen friends in your chosen city that hasn’t yet chewed you up and spit you out yet is a complicated peace, which is at least somewhat more appropriate for Thanksgiving than anything you’d be doing at home.
Use this excuse: “I have mono.”
So hurry up, there’s still time! You can cancel that flight and find a good turkey recipe in time. Stay in town, and have the best Friendsgiving of your life.
This article was originally published in November 2016.