Because I live a full two time zones away from my entire extended family, I haven't gone back for Thanksgiving since 2008. While I miss not really having to cook, it's not been a huge deal. Mostly, it's actually been a lot of fun. One year I joined a big group of friends in a luxurious, cheap (off-season!) cabin in the Black Hills. We had a hot tub and we gambled in Deadwood and I successfully spearheaded the turkey-makin' for the first time. It was beautiful. Another year I went camping with a motley group of climbers deep in remote, freezing-cold (we're talking zero-degrees at the balmiest) Utah desert. We hiked up a canyon wall to visit some Puebloan ruins on Thanksgiving Day, and climbed on the sunniest wall later when the sandstone heated up. There was a ramshackle potluck in a wall tent and three turkeys smoked in the ground. And a danceoff with strangers.

My point is, I've had some great non-family Thanksgivings, as well as some great family Thanksgivings. Just because you hang out with one set of loved ones versus others doesn't fundamentally change the meaning of the holiday, which is: stuffing your face with as much food as possible, while taking time to appreciate all that's been harvested, both literally and figuratively*.

So: while it's nice that young folk are embracing the idea of a peer-based Thanksgiving, why the portmanteau? Among other things, it sounds terrible (seriously, not even clever), and it takes the most important word out of the equation: "thanks." Have Thanksgiving with your parents, your grandparents, your best friends, some work acquaintances, a bunch of strangers in the desert, a pack of wild dogs, or yourself. It still means the same thing.

In celebration of Thanksgiving among friends, I present a snapshot from the aforementioned desert Thanksgiving (I'm in red; sorry for the creepily obscured other face). It was somewhere around -20 or below, excluding windchill. I don't think I can state enough how cold it was. Our eggs and two gallon water jugs froze overnight and my friend and I both had to replace our boots because we burned holes into them at the pit fires trying to keep our feet feel-able. I am wearing socks over my hands because liners and warm gloves were still not warm enough, and my dog, who was a puppy, is wrapped and belted into a spare wool sweater. It was the greatest Thanksgiving of all time, I'm serious.

*Of course, one of the other purposes of the holiday is to basically obscure the genocide America committed against native peoples, so let's not forget that.