My husband, Andy, and I sat at the dinner table with my in-laws the other night and the subject of Thanksgiving came up. Being the lover-of-all-things-organized gal that I am, I grabbed my cell phone and instantly accessed my Thanksgiving planning list on my project management app (Man, I love technology!).
Our family customarily eats the same dishes and desserts every year. While we are always game to try new things, venturing away from our food routines isn’t one of them. Let’s just say that I made the mistake one year of mentioning that I didn’t feel like making deviled eggs for Thanksgiving and came close to needing a family counseling session to smooth things over.
So, after we debated who was baking the turkey and glazing the ham this year, I clicked all the appropriate checkboxes on my menu list and closed the app.
That was the easy part.
It was all the unchecked boxes on my To-Do list that began playing reels in my head.
I started stressing because this week I am going to a writers conference out of town, which leaves only a week after I return to get ready for Thanksgiving. If my kids are all coming from out of town, I need to declutter the extra bedrooms, tidy up the rest of the house, and shop for grandkid-friendly snacks. Oh, and I need to make sure that I am caught up on my client projects before any company comes so I won’t be distracted.
Thanksgiving evening is also when we put up the Christmas tree, so I must make sure I have cookies baked and homemade hot chocolate ingredients for the occasion. Thankfully, I already have a Spotify (another app!) playlist for Christmas music but can’t remember where I put my favorite “This Grandma Loves Christmas” sweatshirt...
The list of tasks mounted as I remembered that I need to shop for new lights for the tree, buy a Christmas-scented oil for the diffuser, and remind Andy to pull down the box of ornaments.
All this to do in one week’s time.
I was feeling more fretful than festive at this point.
I reflect back to the huge butcher paper turkey that I made and tacked to the kitchen wall when my kids were little. We all wrote what we were thankful for on paper feathers to decorate the turkey.
After Thanksgiving dinner, my kids would play Rock, Paper, Scissors to choose which two of the three kids would get to share the wishbone.
We still talk about the year we invited an older neighbor man to share Thanksgiving with us because he had no family. I remember with horror how I missed a bone (oops!) when carving the turkey and the poor fellow choked on it (he survived).
Then there was the year that I filled the kitchen counters with homemade gingerbread men for the nurses at San Diego Children’s Hospital and left them to cool only to discover hours later that my oldest son had eaten most of their legs off.
I kinda miss those simpler days. Those Thanksgivings where we spent more time being spontaneous than meticulously scheduled. Lived in the moments instead of trying to mimic the moments. When we focused on all the things that we were thankful for and it didn’t matter if we ate on paper plates instead of Christmas china.
Are you feeling that way too, or is it just me?
In my downtime at the hotel this week, I’m going to revisit my Thanksgiving list on my project management app. There are a few things that I can purge from the “must-do” tasks. In fact, I’m a little excited to see what spontaneous memories will be made in their place.
Of course, there are a few things that are non-negotiable--like deviled eggs--but just thinking about doing things differently this year makes me feel that old festive feeling again.
P.S. How about creating a “Gratitude Jar” with your family? Give each person a small piece of paper. Ask them to write down something that they are thankful for. Place them in a jar decorated for the occasion and have everyone take turns reading them during dinner. (If they draw their own, have them exchange it for a different one.)