State Park Friendsgiving Dinner | Aimee Flynn Photo

State Park Friendsgiving Dinner

In pursuit of Peak Existence

For most of my life I never really got the hype about Thanksgiving. It was a day I got off of school (yay!) and I got to see my fam (also yay) but like… I don’t know. It was never my fave.

This could have something do with the fact I don’t like turkey. Or sweet potatoes. Or squash, or pumpkin, or stuffing.

I know. I know that the point of Thanksgiving is not just the food but to be intentional and recognize what you’re grateful for. But… it also *is* kind of about the food and I work pretty hard to express gratitude on a daily basis anyway… so yeah.

And when I moved across the country to Arizona I wasn’t sure what my Thanksgiving would look like- Thanksgiving as I knew it as a kid no longer existed and holiday’s in general had turned somewhat sour the older I got so figuring out What to do for the Holiday’s was a puzzle. Especially Thanksgiving.

And what transpired turned into one of my favorite days of the entire year. I was fortunate; I was absorbed into my friend’s family (my “bonus family”) for their annual tradition of having their Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving Dinner in a state park. And like, what better way to celebrate gratitude than by doing so in the outdoors?

We set up camp at Bartlett Lake and used old sheets as table cloths. We stuffed some weeds in an old starbucks cup and arranged some pomegranates around our centerpiece; a hollow gold turkey that was home to my FAVORITE tradition ever- everyone’s personalized limerick, detailing a particularly embarrassing moment from the past year (a “roast.” Get it?); otherwise called Turkey Notes.

Not being fans of turkey to eat, we instead had a meal of porchetta, apple and fennel slaw, from-scratch green bean casserole, home made focaccia, baked potatoes, and tamales. We had the family cookies (“Pink Things”), intended for desert but we ate them as appetizers instead.

We gorged ourselves on dinner and cider and beer. We took turns reading our Turkey Notes aloud to the table, cracking up at each other’s embarrassing stories. When we could eat no more, we hiked around the lake in our fancy Thanksgiving clothes with the dogs, and as per usual, antics ensued.

Everyone is grateful for different things and expresses that gratitude in different ways but this day felt like such a true and honest representation of everything that I was and am thankful for; mother nature, good food, and the best people. Having the day of gratitude actually be filled with the exact things I’m grateful for fit me like a comfy sweater. It may not have looked like your “traditional” Thanksgiving, but it was the absolute perfect Thanksgiving for me.

“I get it,” I remember thinking. “I get why everyone gets so excited for this now.”

And I was so, so grateful.

A Friendsgiving Dinner

Like this personal story? Check out some of my travels here and here.

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— Ryan + Styhiln

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I'm Aimée, Southwest based adventure wedding and elopement photographer, mega nerd, wilderness fan, and taker of the epic pics. But don't think I'm here just to take pretty photos (though there will be pretty photos a-plenty) I’m here to guide you through every step of your elope elopement experience; I’m your location scouter, gatherer of all in info, formal wear wrangler, & hype committee. 

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