Years ago one of our pastors said he liked Thanksgiving because it was a holiday that we (meaning society) hadn’t managed to ruin yet. The implication being that Christmas was something we had commercialized to the point of it being about everything but Jesus’ birthday.
I don’t know about all that, but I do agree that Thanksgiving is a pretty special holiday. It’s one that is cherished in our family. I love everything it represents: thankfulness, football, family, food. It’s about sitting around a table and seeing your loved ones and enjoying a meal together while you just appreciate that you have each other. Really, that’s what it is to me.
We used to have huge Thanksgivings with everyone in our family and we don’t seem to have that anymore, but we’ve managed to keep the day very special.
Appreciate the Ability to Cook and Spend Time With Family
I never understood the people who wanted to cook and have people over and then complained about it the whole time everyone was there. Not everyone enjoys cooking, I get that. But if you don’t, give it over to someone who does. I didn’t cook my first Thanksgiving dinner until I was almost 40. That’s because I had grandmas and aunties and mamas that hosted the day and wanted to cook the turkey. Then all at once we were having Thanksgiving here and I had to cook a turkey for the first time. I took time to just appreciate the ability cook for my family. That was a blessing.
I remember scouring recipes for a turkey and gravy that would really be great. I found this recipe that included a maple orange gravy and used fruit around the bird and it was really delish. I enjoy making that meal so much.
Then I made a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.
Don’t Expect It All to Be Perfection
Perfectionism really is the death of joy. You can strive for excellence but you can’t be perfect. Being a Christian has taught me that and it’s something I now take comfort in. When I hosted my first Turkey Day, we didn’t exactly have the ideal table or dining room to host it:
The sides of that table extended but it was teeny! We went to get a new table in preparation of having people over and guess what? Delivery got delayed and it arrived the day after Thanksgiving! Typical. I did a buffet type thing instead and then we all sat really close together to enjoy the meal.
We were also limited on space in our fridge. We had a terribly small fridge in those days.
See how the milk is butting up against the cake plate? And we have a balancing act with glasses and our cake and pie? Yeah, it was interesting. But we just made it work as best as we could. The day itself was really great even if space was limited.
Celebrate Your Unique Little Traditions
One thing my husband was adamant about when we started hosting Thanksgiving was creating our own traditions. Things like using our cute and dorky turkey plates and putting glitter all over our pumpkins became regular things we did for fun. We still look forward to these things when it comes to this day, and have a few more traditions we keep even if we wind up going somewhere else for the day.
Volunteer at a Homeless Shelter or Soup Kitchen
One year our friends (who had three grown children) suddenly found that they would be alone on Thanksgiving for the first time ever. They invited us down for a pre-Thanksgiving meal the week before (she loved to cook, and this was her way of celebrating – and we enjoyed it, too!) and then on Thanksgiving her and her husband volunteered at the soup kitchen in town. They enjoyed it so much this became a regular tradition for them, and she said it made her appreciate the day in a whole new way.
Seeing how other people may be struggling is also a good reminder of how fortunate you are. It’s hard to complain when you are reminded of the abundance in your own life. Giving back takes just a few hours, but means the world to those not as fortunate.
Remember Who You Are Ultimately Thankful For
You can’t just say you’re thankful without there being someone to thank. So whatever you decide to do for Thanksgiving, be consciously grateful for the time you have and remember who you are directing your thankfulness to. For us, this means we thank God and ask Him in to our Thanksgiving celebration.
Life is too short to stress out on negative things. With a little planning and effort, your Thanksgiving can be filled with meaning that will inspire you the whole year through.