Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and represents food, family, and times of sharing gratitude for what the Lord has done.
It is one of my favorite holidays for so many reasons but mostly because of my family’s traditions, the food preparation, and the time spent in and around the kitchen.
My family traditions have evolved over the 29 years that my husband and I have been married. In the early years, my husband and I used to travel a good eight hours to visit family for Thanksgiving, but after having children, the long drive proved to be difficult. We then held Thanksgiving at home with our immediate family, but as the children grew, things changed.
We began inviting people over who had nowhere else to go. It started with my husband extending an invitation to a coworker who did not have family in town, and it then evolved into inviting random people every year. A few years in a row, we had our pastor’s parents over while they traveled out of state to visit their daughter. One year we invited a couple we met at church who were new in town. Another time we asked a young family over, and a few times it has been a mix of people we know who didn’t know one another. My husband and I pray and discuss each year whom we should invite.
I take some time to relax during the day, so I am not cooking from the wee hours of daybreak until dinnertime. I plan ahead and carefully schedule all the food preparation because another one of our traditions is to watch a movie or two during the day. We snack on hors-d’oeuvres, sit together on the sofa, and lounge around.
I thoroughly delight in all the decoration, preparation, and cooking. Our table is garnished with fall décor, candles, china, and crystal. My family has fun setting a lavish table, enjoying a fancy feast, and creating an atmosphere for our guests to feel special and honored.
I make everything from scratch because cooking and feeding people are my love languages, and I believe homemade food tastes best. We traditionally eat our Thanksgiving meal promptly at 6:00. I have a master list I use every year along with a schedule to time the food just right. My menu is fairly consistent with one new recipe thrown in occasionally for variety. While the turkey preparation can vary year to year, my favorite way is to stuff it with butter, herbs, and lemon, then roast it. My mom always makes her mother’s delicious dressing (stuffing) recipe and bakes the yummy pumpkin pies.
Once we are replete from the meal and contemplating room in our bellies for dessert, we share five things for which we are thankful. While still seated at the dining table, my husband passes out an index card and pen to each person. Everyone is instructed to take some time to write down things and/or people that have impacted their year and then share five items from their card. We partake round robin-style reading from our cards, and it’s always a lovely time to reflect on proof of the goodness of God in our lives.
We have celebrated in a myriad of ways, but making room for others at the table is my absolute favorite. Our table is overflowing with delicious foods, and our hearts are filled with gratitude. I cannot think of a more perfect way to begin the holiday season than that.
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