We are a couple days away from Thanksgiving, and I just want to give you all a reminder.
The holidays, and Thanksgiving in particular, are meant to be a time for you to really think about what really matters to you. And who really matters to you.
To spend time with those people if you can.
To think about everything you have to be grateful for.
To gather with the people you love and to celebrate. To celebrate old traditions and create new ones.
Somehow for many of us, the holidays have turned into an over-the-top event.
We have lost sight of what the day is supposed to be about!
I don’t know where this expectation comes from.
We have always hosted Thanksgiving at our house simply because it was easier for me to do it here when the kids were all much younger than it was to drag them somewhere else. They could still take naps that way and we had high chairs here and it just made things much simpler.
But I still managed to unsimplify things.
Because for some reason I had placed this expectation on myself that I should do things that weren’t necessary.
I should make a new side dish we’d never had. I should have a signature beverage. I should have the dining room decorated like it was gonna be the featured article in Better Homes and Gardens.
If all this made me happy and relaxed me and was something I had time for and enjoyed, that would be one thing.
But it didn’t.
It stressed me out, and I spent hours and hours and HOURS preparing for an afternoon with family and a meal that would last approximately twelve minutes from start to finish — most of which my kids would not touch — and be snappy and bitchy and sometimes just plain angry for most — or all — of the day.
Sometimes five o’clock on Thanksgiving would roll around and I’d be totally passed out on the couch.
And not from drinking five or nine glasses of wine.
Just from being totally shot.
I don’t recall things being like this when I was a kid.
Maybe it’s just because I was a kid and completely oblivious to what the adults were even doing.
But I don’t think so.
I think back to Thanksgivings when I was in elementary and middle school and high school.
We’d wake up and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Then we’d watch March of the Wooden Soldiers with Laurel and Hardy.
Then we’d watch Mighty Joe Young.
The we’d watch King Kong.
(all the black and white ones)
Then we’d go to my great grandma’s house and eat Thanksgiving dinner with my grandparents and my aunts and uncles and cousins.
My great grandma would sit on the couch after dinner and watch The Lawrence Welk Show on her little TV with a dial to change the channel and rabbit ears on top to get the best signal. My Uncle Dom would fall asleep sitting up in a chair. My grandma and my great aunt would spend the rest of the night after dinner washing dishes and cleaning in the kitchen. My mom and my aunts would hang out and talk and offer to help in the kitchen but then give up because my grandma and my aunt were kind of particular about how things had to be done.
We ate the exact same thing every year.
We did the exact same thing every year.
And everyone was happy.
And everyone looked forward to Thanksgiving every year.
At least I did.
Because I just wanted to hang out with my family.
I didn’t care about a centerpeice or matching place settings or what anyone else was wearing.
Nothing was over-the-top.
If decorating and trying new dishes and having a theme and making fancy place cards are enjoyable and fun for you, then by all means, go for it.
But you don’t have to make a pumpkin topiary for your centerpiece.
You don’t have to go foraging in the forest to find items to decorate your dining room table.
And if you normally do that stuff because you’ve put that extra expectation on yourself and you think you have to do it this year too because people will expect it, it’s okay for you to say not this year.
It’s okay to simplify.
It’s okay to not make a new dish this year.
It’s okay to buy a store-baked pie.
This year my family will be eating a pumpkin pie and and apple pie made special for us by Costco.
And I’m totally okay with that.
Do I have visions of making apple pies for Thanksgiving with apples pie filling that I canned and made from the apples on the apple tree in our backyard?
Hell yeah, I do.
But that’s not happening this year.
And probably not next year.
There is a good chance that will never happen.
But maybe one day it will.
I also have visions of centerpieces made out of carved out pumpkins and filled with fall colored flowers I’ve freshly picked from my self-sustaining greenhouse, cloth napkins wrapped with twine and leaves I collected from the backyard, mason jars spray painted and stenciled with words like thankful and blessings on them, and hand-cut place cards filled out with calligraphy that I did myself.
I’d love to get to that point some day. I would enjoy it if I didn’t have so much other stuff going on in my life.
Now is just not the time.
Five years ago when we had a 2,3 4, 7, 8, 14 and 16-year-old was definitely not the time.
Sometimes you also just have to accept reality.
When you are in the thick of it with young kids, it’s okay to set the bar a little bit lower.
What I remember from when I was a kid was not the extras.
I don’t remember what any of my relatives wore, I don’t remember how heavy any of them were, I don’t remember what the plates we ate on looked like, and I don’t remember what the centerpieces on the tables looked like.
Or if there even were centerpieces.
If you are freaking out, scale it back.
Ask for help.
Say no when you need to .
It’s not about being extra.
It’s about this:
Some fuzzy pictures to go along with your warm, fuzzy memories of the people you care about most.