Oh Thanksgiving — the long abused holiday. The holiday where we perform various traditional tasks, stress out over them because tradition dictates they must be done, and then promptly go shopping. This year I want to refocus on what is important, the reason for this holiday, and I want to stop stressing about it all.
You see this year is the first Thanksgiving that we will be hosting at our house. That makes me hostess, in charge of the bird, the table settings, and general cleanliness of the house. It’s also the first year that we will be trying to combine family traditions. It’s a bit of a balancing act I’ll admit, to make sure everyone gets their favorite dish and has enough time with family members. I am so pleased to take on this responsibility, but it was also beginning to stress me out a little.
So if you are a hostess reading this and feeling the same, trust me, I get it. It’s ok to want everything to be perfect and to do your best to make it so, but will you take my advice and try at least one of these tips for a less stressful holiday? And if you are not hosting will you try the tips to show your thankfulness?
- Dump a tradition: I think by now you may have gathered from my blog that I love traditions. I love the connection to the past and the rhythms that traditions create in our lives. But if you are like me and have an overwhelming number of traditions, food or otherwise, choose one right now and discard it. Pick one that isn’t that meaningful, or a dish that only one person likes, and tell yourself this isn’t adding to the overall experience. Don’t feel guilty because everyone in your family has done it for years and you’ll be breaking tradition; just allow yourself the extra space. One less thing to worry about.
- Turn off the TV: Speaking of dumping a tradition, and right now half of you hate me for saying this, turn off the T.V. I don’t care if you are watching the Macy’s parade or the football game, just turn it off. Thanksgiving should be about spending quality time with your family, talking with one another. Don’t know what to say? Take 5 minutes and have everyone write down an interesting question on a piece of paper, throw them in a mixing bowl and grab one at random. Take turns going around the table and answering the questions. Who knows? You might even learn something new about one another.
- Leave the dirty dishes in the sink: Yes I know this one was a little unexpected for me to say, but do the dishes really have to be done right after dinner? Why don’t you sit down with your cup of coffee enjoy your pie, or several varieties of pie, and don’t think about the dishes for at least an hour. Agreed?
For those of you not hosting:
- If you are not cooking, bring a hostess gift: This used to be SOP (standard operating procedure) for any guest coming into someone’s home. Now when someone actually does this it comes as a shock. Even if you are eating Thanksgiving at your parent’s house, bring a gift. This of course is not necessary if you are bringing or helping to make a dish, but for everyone else there is no excuse. Bring a bottle of wine, practically everyone likes wine, or for your teetotaling friends (like me!) bring some flowers. Heck I would be excited if someone brought saran wrap for leftovers.
- Help clean the kitchen (or watch the kids etc): Take some of the load off your other family members by agreeing to clean the kitchen or watch the kids while they clean. Try to be as helpful as possible so everyone can enjoy the holiday.
- Tell your host they did a good job: Maybe the mashed potatoes were cold or Aunty Patty’s pie isn’t as good as Mom’s, whatever the faults of the meal, tell your host and hostess that you appreciated the invitation and that they did a good job. On Thanksgiving of all holidays try to be gracious and give thanks to those who worked hard so you could enjoy a feast.
So enjoy your Thanksgiving, enjoy spending this precious time with your family, and enjoy the blessings that you have.