This is one of those posts I call “evergreen” – it’s applicable year after year and in so many different ways. When I wrote it last year, we were preparing for an unusually small Thanksgiving gathering. But for many, small is the norm. You may be away from family, or perhaps your family is not super-sized. My motto is: “If you can’t fix it, feature it!” So here are some benefits of an intimate turkey day gathering. Enjoy!
This will be a different kind of Thanksgiving holiday. Many of our family members (and some oft-included friends) will be traveling this year to see family in other places. Instead of our usual table for 35 or so, we will be fourteen for turkey. Different.
Especially since the chief turkey briner/cook will not be present. No worries, our matriarch will step in to baste that bird into glorified goodness. I don’t need to double or triple the side dishes, and we will cut the recipe for pumpkin cheesecake in half. An adjustment here, a time-saver there.
So instead of feeling blue over the crowd that won’t gather, I’ve decided to treasure the pleasure that will come with a small assembly. No scrambling for the white meat. No gravy shortage. Fewer dishes and less time in the kitchen. But that’s the low hanging fruit. What about something a bit meatier? Here are three differences I’m looking forward to this year.
- Less focus on food and more on family. When you’re cooking for 35, it can be all about coordinating the timing so the turkey is ready to carve at the same time the sweet potatoes are bubbly hot. It can be stressful and I’ve been known to snap at my loved ones who wander out to the kitchen and ask, “Isn’t it ready yet?” It’s an aggravation I’m still learning to manage. So I’m grateful there will be fewer folks to watch the clock as their stomach growls. I plan to hold a few babies, visit with my sweet mother-in-law, and hold my hubby’s hand while we watch some football. If the schedule gets off a bit, I’ll add microwaves to my gratitude list for the day.
- The opportunity for meaningful conversation. With 30+ folks milling around, the discussions are often more small talk and catching up. I’m looking forward to a hearty discussion or two on world events and updates on new homes or jobs for some. I may even take a shot at debating with my brother-in-law, someone I love dearly, but with whom I rarely agree. I don’t want to miss asking my 7-year old great-niece, “what’s new in second grade?” as it always yields a great discovery, along with a smile over just how grown up she is these days.
- Time to reflect on the immeasurable goodness of God. The name “Thanksgiving” implies we should be focused on the gifts and blessings in our lives. Gratitude is the attitude that helps us keep the little things from becoming the big things. An awareness of the goodness in our life calibrates our thinking and balances out the occasional icky stuff without catastrophizing it. And with a small crowd, we can take a few minutes around the table to share our greatest blessing of the year. The food would be cold if we tried to do that with our usual group, so I’m hoping we can include it in this different kind of year. I love to hear how God’s working in the lives of those I treasure.
Colossians 3:15 encourages us: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” I pray your holiday brings you a refreshed awareness of God’s presence in your life – no matter what your circumstances. He sees you. He loves you. So while this Thanksgiving might be different – He remains the same, yesterday, today and forever. Happy Thanksgiving.