This year, I am hoping that I take a different approach to Thanksgiving and to the holiday season in general. I have hosted Thanksgiving enough times to know my limits and to manage my expections. That doesn't mean that I breeze through holidays with a happy heart and perfect grace...it means that I KNOW in my head what I need to do or not do to make myself and everyone around me more joyful, but I'm still working on the practice.
I want to make a place in my home for everyone to feel at home. I want to spend more time talking and listening to the people who are filling my home rather than spending all of my time in the kitchen. I want to enjoy my children rather than shooing them away so that I can finish all of my Thanksgiving preparations. I want to observe the wonder that is family. I want to be able to reflect back on the weekend and know that I was present.
There are a few practical things that I am doing this year to help with this process:
First, we are going OUT TO EAT for Thanksgiving!!! I know, I can hardly believe it myself. I was honestly horrified when my husband first suggested my not cooking for Thanksgiving, but after about three minutes of thinking about cooking this year with my three young children running around, the chance for rainy/cold weather while the men try to fry the turkey (and keep the children away from the fryer), the fact that my sous chef will be with her in-laws...tear...and the fact that I had already started thinking about how to destress the holiday, I got on board! Don't get me wrong, there WILL be cooking this weekend...it's just going to be taken down a notch.
Second, I have asked that everyone that is coming to plan to help with a night of cooking...my brother got us Mexican take out last night (I am sure you are all shocked!), my parents/grandmother are picking up barbeque today on their way, my mom has made and frozen a lasagna, I am in charge of lunches, and my aunt/uncle/brother/myself/my husband will bring up the rear and cook out on Saturday. This was hard for me to let go of because I have a pretty strong opinion about what being a host should look like, but I'm just letting it go after much encouragement from my parents and my husband!
Third, we have some really fun activities planned...this is more for me than anyone else as I tend to get a little stir crazy. We are going out to a fun dinner Friday night, my brother and I are running in a Turkey Strut on Thanksgiving morning, my husband, brother, & I are maybe planning in a paddle tennis tournament, all the men will likely play golf, I'm taking the boys to pack lunches for H.O.P.E; there will be some shopping I am certain, and there are lots of options for football watching...don't worry mama, there will be plenty of opportunities for naps as well. ;)
Fourth, my house is set up a bit like a hotel right now. I set up a table in the living room with coffee, creamer, sugar, pastries, and fruit...thanks to my Bible study women for leaving me with all of the coffee goodies!!! In the evening, this set up will change over to a beverage station with water, beer, wine, and snacks. This may sound crazy to you, but I just want everyone to be comfortable and eat & drink at their own pace. Plus, this room is in the middle of my house where we will all congregate, so there is no risk of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)!!
I'm certain that there will be some craziness that happens in the midst of my well laid plans, but I am happy to be starting off with a heart full of thankfulness. I am thankful that everyone is willing to shake up tradition for Thanksgiving this year; I am thankful that I will get to linger a little longer at the table rather than scurrying around like a mad woman while everyone else eats; I am thankful that I will get to come home after dinner and rest rather than racing to cleaning up; I am thankful that even though my sister can't be here that she is with a wonderful family that she married into creating memories with her husband and her daughter (the newest member of our clan); I am thankful for the sound of the rain this morning despite that worry it gives me for those driving; I am thankful for the quiet in my house so that I can reflect and write a little before the weekend begins; I am thankful for the Proverbs 31 devotion that started my morning on the right foot and started this reflection of thanksgiving; I am thankful that my children get to spend the holiday with their great-grandmother; I am thankful for the coffee and wine that will at various times be necessary over the weekend; I am thankful that everyone is staying together at my house; I am thankful that my husband loves my family (who is all staying at my house)...A LOT; and I am incredibly thankful that I have family that is willing to travel from all over to come spend the weekend with us.
I could go on and on, and I hope that I can continue to focus on the many blessings and wonderful moments surrounding me this weekend. Say a little prayer that I don't fall into old habits. ;)
Happy Happy Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! And, of course, Happy Cooking!