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Don’t forget dairy when packing for the holiday parties

Laura Holtzinger for Progressive Dairy Published on 22 December 2020
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I attended my first “Friendsgiving” this year, and it did not disappoint! Friendsgiving is an informal, trendy term describing a Thanksgiving celebration with friends.

My girl gang, consisting of my two best girlfriends since grade school, Whitney and Jillian, and two of Whit’s college roommates and co-bridesmaids-in-Whit’s-wedding-turned-bffs, Emily and Katrina, decided we were overdue for a gathering, especially with the challenges and restrictions of this strange COVID-19-afflicted year.

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Having not all been together since Whitney’s wedding last October, we couldn’t resist an opportunity to eat, drink, watch football, play games, laugh lots and be merry as a group. So, we decided to gather the Saturday before Thanksgiving – the only weekend available for all of us and our significant others.

As Friendsgiving neared, the #GirlGang group chat was energized with the bustle of meal planning, coordinating times of arrival, who’s to bring air mattresses and extra blankets, and so on. The turkey, ham, mashed potatoes (my personal favorite, though I have yet to meet a potato I didn’t like), sweet potatoes, stuffing balls, creamed corn, baked mac & cheese, meatballs, gravy, salad and hors d’oeuvres were all quickly claimed by my eager pals, all looking forward to collaborating over this highly anticipated meal. (You would think we’ve all been championing Thanksgiving meals for decades based on how scrumptious everything was!)

I’d planned to prepare a hot dish too (or commission my skilled life partner to make his noteworthy mashed potatoes), but life is fluid; Matt and I learned of the passing of a dear friend’s father on Monday the week of Friendsgiving, so I shifted my intentions to just grabbing our contribution on the way from the funeral to Friendsgiving.

Fun fact: I’m a Penn Stater, 2016 graduate, and I loved virtually everything about my college years and experiences. Meanwhile, Whitney was at Lycoming College, and didn’t make time for many trips. So, if we wanted to see her (I did), Jillian and I would visit Lycoming, and in doing so, we had bonded with Emily, Katrina and her other Lyco friends since circa 2012-13. We became “honorary Lyco students” over our four college years – and each time I visited, I brought milk. Yes, milk – nature’s most nearly perfect food. I would come busting into Whit’s dorm with my bags (guilty of always overpacking, I’d bring several shoes and clothing options, though I’d usually wear Whit’s clothes anyway), my pillow (gift from Whit) and my half gallon of milk.

There are few things in everyday life more disappointing or limiting than wanting a bowl of cereal or a casual glass of milk and not having any. Having lived all of my 27 years on or having access to a dairy farm, I have been spoiled with drinking delicious, nutritious, raw whole milk. I definitely meet, and exceed, the recommended “three-a-day [servings] of dairy.” I couldn’t risk reaching into Whit’s fridge and coming out empty, so I would either bring milk from the farm or stop at a convenience store en route, to guarantee my drink of choice would be there. And, since my preferred alcoholic beverages are also cream and milk-protein based, like Bailey’s, by bringing milk and spiked milk beverages, I was representing and supporting the dairy industry twofold. (Plus, string cheese sometimes because name a more convenient and fun snack!)

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Friendsgiving was no different, and Christmas celebrations will consist of plenty of dairy as well, in all its delightful forms. As you can imagine, this habit of always appearing milk-in-hand is a conversation starter and has prompted lots of questions over the years, thus creating many opportunities to advocate for dairy. My need to ensure I will have milk wherever I go gets people thinking, and drinking, more too. I encourage you to incorporate more and more dairy into your diets, trips, conversations and festivities, too. So, when preparing for Christmas and your other occasions, don’t forget the milk (in all its flavors), creative yogurt dishes, ice cream varieties, milk liquors (if you fancy) and extra cheese on everything. Happy holidays!  end mark

Laura Holtzinger is a freelance journalist and co-owner of Linehan Jerseys in south central Pennsylvania.

PHOTO: Getty Images.

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