Thanksgiving will be different this year. A smaller table. Fewer guests. Less food.
That isn’t really how I pictured the day, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it is how to pivot, how to make the most out of the potentially less-than-ideal situation in front of us. So, in a few weeks, we will be doing just that.
The Guest List
We don’t usually travel to visit family for Thanksgiving, saving our long road trip for Christmas, so Thanksgiving has really become “Friendsgiving” for us. We usually celebrate with a dozen or so friends and all of our kids – for a group of about 40. There are kids and there is chaos, plenty of food, delicious desserts, and lots of laughs. This year, however, the guest list looks to be just the five of us in my little family, and one or maybe two friends who have remained in our “pod”. While there will certainly be fewer seated at the table, there will be more opportunity for conversation and catching up in an intentional way that doesn’t always come with a crowd.
While I love a good potluck, I always feel like we head into the big day with little fanfare. You see, my husband is the designated turkey fryer in our group, so we almost always provide the bird. Essential to the meal, but not very glamorous or enticing to prepare. This year, I am looking forward to making all the sides in addition to the turkey – dressing and green bean casserole, maybe deviled eggs and cranberry sauce. Oh and dessert. I’m already trying to decide whether to buy a pumpkin pie or this delicious bourbon pecan pie I saw advertised recently.
I’m also anticipating a bit more quiet time on Thanksgiving Day. No travel time to and from our friends’ house. No need to arrive early to help set up, or stay late to help clean up. I can prep most of our meal the night before or in the morning. That might leave some actual time on the actual day for reflection. In this year of so much pain and confusion and uncertainty, I’m hoping to find a few minutes to give thanks for the good in my life – the health of my family and friends; the provision that has sustained us through the most challenging year; the ways I’ve grown and changed through it all. I’m also hoping to Facetime with our families, which we don’t always get to do in between everyone’s usually busy schedules.
At the end of the day on November 26, I hope I can look back with gratitude for the day that was, even it isn’t quite what I would’ve planned. Maybe we will cook a Thanksgiving breakfast this year. Or watch a Christmas movie after dinner to kick off the holiday season. We might go for a family walk in the afternoon or sit around the fire pit in the back yard. There are lots of options for how to spend some extra time together.
And just a reminder to us all: the holidays will look different this year. But “different” doesn’t have to mean “bad”. Let’s make the best of it – for our sake and for our kids.