Has Your Kid Ever Said THIS at the Thanksgiving Table?
I’m a fan of Thanksgiving. Thinking about the menu alone has me getting all watered up for a belly full of comfort food goodness (those mashed potatoes aren’t going to eat themselves!). But if you’re hosting Thanksgiving, bringing your children to a family gathering, or offering up a new side dish or dessert for the crowd, you could be at stress level midnight. And if you’ve spent any length of time on Pinterest perusing the lavish table décor, the cupcakes (cake pops, oreo bites, cheese balls) shaped like turkeys, and the 50 most-pinned Thanksgiving side dishes, you’re probably in a full-out sweat right now. Girl, I get it.
But let me tell you something that all of us know but have a hard time remembering. Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Perfection does not usher in gratitude.
My first Thanksgiving as a married lady hosting my in-laws was…ummm…not ideal. I had prepped the side dishes, including my mom’s super amazing stuffing and had found a fresh-herb and lemon turkey recipe that would be the first (and last) turkey I’d ever cook in my life. After several very invasive moments between me and the turkey, I popped it in the oven. The recipe said to bake for one hour. After an hour, the turkey was still a cold, jiggly mess. Upon further investigation, I realized that the turkey from the recipe was a tiny, one-and-a-half-pounder…so the cook time was wellllllll below what was required for my 13-pound bird. Talk about embarrassment.
Thankfully, instead of freaking out, I threw my hands up in the air, laughed it off, and set out to problem-solve our growling bellies. We ate some sides as early appetizers and then (what felt like 27 hours later), we sat down to a sort-of delicious Thanksgiving feast. And we still chuckle about it to this day. No one likes a stressed-out host. Instead, we enjoyed some extra time together and a memory that makes for a pretty good story.
Perfection does not usher in gratitude.
Need more proof? Check out some of the hilarious Thanksgiving faux pas from other Mothers of the Year!
Cassie: Last year was my first year to do Thanksgiving all by myself. I was so worried I would give everyone food poisoning with a raw turkey or something that I made myself sick with anxiety and ended up in bed the rest of the day. Everyone else was fine.
Joni: We had just moved into a new house and were hosting thanksgiving for the first time. After prepping the turkey, I realized that it didn’t fit in our oven. The oven also didn’t cook evenly so the pies were under-baked and one had to be tossed. Then, to top it all off, my daughter was learning about the parts of the body and when I put the turkey on the table, she yelled for my whole family to hear, “Mommy, I think it’s a girl, it has a bagina too!!!” I died. My sister was laughing so hard she almost choked, and the rest of the family said it was the best Thanksgiving ever.
Lauren: The first year my hubby and I were married and in our new home, we wanted to host Thanksgiving. We had a huge turn-out and everyone had a great time, despite the grease fire in the oven right before we were ready to eat!
Kendra: Once my sister forgot to put sugar in the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. It tasted like sadness. That was several years ago and we still laugh about it, she’s never gonna live that down.
Michelle: Oh my goodness! My Grandma forgot to put PUMPKIN in the pumpkin pie once! We all get a good laugh about it still.
Cathy: I spent Thanksgiving in the ER because my mom was eating a potato chip and it somehow snapped and a piece went in her eye. She came to dinner looking like a pirate.
You can’t make this stuff up! And like it or not, something equally as horrifying (or hilarious) just might happen to you. But perfection doesn’t usher in gratitude.
If it’s hard for you to be grateful if you’re an anxious mess. If you’re stressed and striving for perfection, you’re missing the point. You’re stuck inside of your own head and your own expectations and there’s no joy to be found there. Gratitude doesn’t live in that spiral of control and self-doubt. Gratitude lives around your table, in your conversations, and overflows from your heart. When you lift your eyes to focus on others, you are ushering in gratitude. When you take a moment to pause and listen for your child’s sweet laughter in the next room, you are ushering in gratitude.
Gratitude is a discipline. One that’s hard-fought-for. Choosing an attitude of gratitude is the only way we can live with more love and peace. It’s easy to look around our lives and around our Facebook feeds and around the struggles of the world and find no hope. What’s harder is to look around the same spaces and choose to find the good. Name the good. Be the good.
If you’re not sure where to start, try this:
Look outside of yourself. Lift your eyes to the people around you and take a breath.
Name the good. Seriously, say it out loud or write it down. Think about that list all day.
Let your kids help. My daughter Josie is helping me to learn gratitude like a child. She sees wonder everywhere she looks, shouts it from the mountaintops, and reminds me to do the same.