Today is the day after Thanksgiving. Some people woke up to eat left overs. We didn't this year. Actually, this Thanksgiving did not turn out to be as expected in more than one way. I am thankful though that through this experience, I have been able to learn a couple of lessons that I'd like to share with you today.
Lesson #1: Thanksgiving Day Is Just Another Ordinary Day.
My guess is that most people are disagreeing with me right now. Let me explain, and then perhaps you might agree with me in a bit. What is it about Thanksgiving Day that women, in particular, who most days care very little about cooking a homemade meal, place an enormous amount of pressure to become a chef that day? Who are we trying to impress? What expectations are we trying to live up to? Are we afraid of failing somehow on this day?
Well, I did feel like I failed my family yesterday. I have been dealing with some health challenges and my body didn't get the memo that it's Thanksgiving Day. There was no fancy feast and I felt I had let my family down. My kids are old enough to be aware when a holiday isn't as special as we had anticipated all month long for it to be. It didn't help to see videos of other women on YouTube going to the store and buying an enormous amount of food, with an impressive menu and schedule. I could see how much more other women were able to do, and how they didn't seem to share my health struggles.
Having left social media helped me not go further down the comparison hole this year though. Other years, I would have posted stories or pictures showing how happy my family was on this day. Well, after I found a little hope for future Thanksgivings being better, I got up and got my dining table ready to salvage what I could of our Thanksgiving Day. We had a pumpkin pie in the fridge, and the kids and I had started a "Thankful Tree" craft this week, and now we were headed in the right direction. The kids, my husband and I began to write down things that we were grateful for. I turned on a few candles, which the children find quite exciting, and after praying, we ate our pumpkin pie.
The children had the great idea of pouring whipping cream on a plate and pushing it on daddy's face (with his permission), and so our failed Thanksgiving turned into a pretty special ordinary day. Our traditions were not what made it special. We added thanksgiving to our ordinary day, instead of trying to live up to who knows whose expectations of what Thanksgiving Day is supposed to be like.
Lesson #2: Traditions Are Not More Important Than People
I myself happen to have a desire to create traditions around the holidays. I suppose there's nothing wrong with them, until they create problems. The thing about traditions is that they only will work out perfectly as planned in a world where nothing unexpected ever happens.
This year, for many people, the corona virus changed many people's Thanksgiving Day plans. When health issues or life circumstances dampen our traditions, it's important to hold those traditions loosely and remember that the people in our life are more important than our traditions. In a day that we like to become especially aware of the people we are thankful for, it would be the most loving gesture to be flexible and to put other people first. We need to consider others and find what the next best thing is for everyone involved. Our Thanksgiving Day traditions should not cause friction between us and the people that we love.
These are the lessons I learned this year, which I wouldn't have other years, busy stressed in the kitchen, too tired from hosting to enjoy the company, and too busy posting on social media caring a little too much about what other people will think. Again, I don't think there is something wrong with these things, but there is also something special about doing things a little different than everyone else. It's not failure when you are not comparing yourself to everyone else or trying to live up to someone's expectations, including your own.
The most important thing about yesterday is that despite the challenges that we may experience in life, we were able to make the most of our ordinary day. We can always cook, we can always gather, but can we be there to meet each other where we need it the most? That's the lesson I always want to remember and pass on to my children as well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His faithfulness is everlasting."
1 Chronicles 16:34 NASB
"do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
Philippians 2:4 NASB