Reflecting on Friendsmas with Jack Wills, and other holiday traditions

Friendsmas 2016, New York City. Photo: Brian F. Benton

The holiday season always requires effort.

Wake up; get ready; do this; go here; end up there; drink this; don’t bring up this topic to that person; no, I didn’t shave my beard; drive; hug; drive; hug; eat everything in sight; sleep.

I don’t mean to sound like a holiday hater, but after everything is said and done, it’s exhausting! Yet, somewhere in between the second you curl up on the couch and find that perfectly comfortable position, you remember why you enjoy the chaos and commotion — because you get to see the people who actually matter to you.

Jack Wills, a British-based sportswear company featuring some of the hottest styles for men and women, celebrated “Friendsmas” across the company; a day when best friends get together with the sole aim of eating, drinking, and gift-giving.

I was lucky enough to have been invited with Elissa from Style Wire to celebrate the festivities both at the pop-up party in New York City as well as in Boston at their Newbury Street retail location in December.

The parties themselves were exactly what you might expect from Friendsmas and more. Many of the US Jack Wills store employees were there to mix, mingle, and share a laugh and an adult beverage together. At the same time, new friends were not hard to make, and great conversations were not hard to have. At the end of the night, both times, we all left with a handshake, a smile, and full bellies — merriment at its finest.

Hanging out with people I meet for the first time is great and everything, but it made me miss my family and friends all that much more, especially during the holiday season.

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But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about growing up, it’s that you’re not always able to see those you love the most every day.

Moving out of my suburban childhood home to be a busy city-guy certainly made it difficult to see my family and friends regularly. And with my younger siblings now having responsibilities of their own, it’s even harder. My small group of friends has started to take those next steps in life — some beginning to settle down, some moving to new cities, some doing both.

Now, I must admit, I’m fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life to begin with. Some people I know don’t have that kind of luxury for one reason or another, but I believe that your real “family” is whomever you choose to create the strongest bonds with, be it a blood relative or a best friend.

“…your real “family” is whomever you choose to create the strongest bonds with…”

This is why tradition is important. Tradition helps us recognize what has meaning in our lives, what matters most, and where we come from.

Taking this into consideration, I didn’t feel like it was in anybody’s best interest to buy them a Christmas gift this year. Gift cards are great, but what kind of life-long memories can you create around a round-edged piece of plastic?

This holiday season I set a goal, which I’m hoping will become an annual holiday tradition, to gather all my loved ones together and treat them to a nice dinner so we can eat, drink, and laugh our asses off inspired by the spirit of Friendsmas.

I’m happy to be able to say so far, so good.

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