Thanksgiving is normally a time when family or close friends come together for a hearty meal. For one social media influencer and astrophotographer, however, that intimate gathering has come to include strangers — specifically Twitter users.
For the past three years, Abdul Dremali, a Boston-based Egyptian photographer and marketing director who goes by "advil" on social media platforms, has invited his Twitter followers to join him and his girlfriend Anna Putney for dinner.
"My girlfriend and I moved in together for the first time," Dremali told In The Know. "This is, you know, our first home together. She moved to Boston to be with me, and we really don't have any family here, and we don't have that many friends, or at least at the time. We were just kind of thinking, 'Well, there's probably a lot of other people who don't have any friends or family.'"
In 2016, Dremali, who moved to Boston from Dallas, decided to invite his Twitter followers over so he could put faces to his followers. He also wanted to give back to the Twitter and Boston communities at the same time.
"It's kind of the least I can do, you know, welcome them into my home," he said. "Give them a nice meal and hang out, talk, get to know them a little bit."
That year, four people showed up. That number, however, has since grown. On Nov. 16, Dremali put out an open call to his 120,000-plus Twitter followers again.
"Every year, Anna and I invite our twitter followers who have no Thanksgiving plans over for dinner," he posted. "We’re excited to be hosting this for the 3rd year running! if you’re in Boston and have nothing to go for the holiday, we welcome you into our home next Friday night! DM me!"
This year, approximately 18 people, most of whom were college students, showed up at the "Twittersgiving," Dremali said. At least two of those guests had previously been to his Thanksgiving dinners, he added.
"I didn't grow up celebrating it," Dremali said. "It's something that I've always wanted to do, and now that I'm a grown man, I can do whatever I want."
While the photographer has funded the meals out of his own pockets, Putney has done most of the cooking. At this month's dinner, guests were treated to turkey, roast chicken, baked mac and cheese, among other dishes.
"My wallet was empty, but my heart was full," Dremali joked.
For all his success, Dremali said he's forever grateful to Twitter for helping to propel his career.
"I think the discoverability of Twitter makes it the most valuable of the social media platforms," he told In The Know. "I rarely discover new people on the other platforms, and I am rarely discovered on other platforms compared to Twitter because of the retweet functionality and things like that, so I've always loved it the most."