Happy November! It’s hard to believe that in just a couple weeks Thanksgiving will be here. Thanksgiving isn’t one of my favorite holidays. I’m all for gratefulness, but I just get weary of the pumpkin decor by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. Plus I don’t really like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce or sweet potato anything. Shallow? Yes. Honest? Also yes. Despite the fact that my house will likely be decorated for Christmas prior to Thanksgiving, and I won’t be eating any “traditional” food, it’s incredibly important for me to take time to be intentionally grateful. So if you’re like me and you feel a little stale about Thanksgiving, here are some tips and ideas to put some zest back into the day by practicing easy, practical hospitality.
Host a Friendsgiving! It doesn’t have to be actually on Thanksgiving Day, but invite friends over for a potluck-style dinner. Have everyone bring their favorite side, and you provide the meat and drinks. Its a great time to taste new recipes and enjoy the classics without any family drama ;) Think about the friends who don’t have family in town or aren’t able to travel for various reasons. I know when we lived away from family it was awesome to get together with a few other families from church and spend time together!
Our church partners with a couple of colleges in the area to ensure that international students aren’t left alone during Thanksgiving. Families agree to host one or two students; it enables the students to experience yet another part of our culture while also keeping them from being alone on campus. What better way is there to showcase gratefulness for all that God has given you than including others into your family traditions?
Think about calling a nursing home or assisted living facility to see how your family can bless them on Thanksgiving. Maybe you can bring in baked goods for the staff working the holiday. Perhaps, your family could spend some time encouraging the residents or dropping off goodie bags or cards your children made. So many of these residents are never visited by anyone! An hour of your time can offer hope to someone who feels forgotten.
Regardless of what you do, take time to be grateful. Create a board and stick post-its notes on it with things each family member is thankful for. Spend time around the dinner table telling the people you love you’re glad they are in your life. Take time to thank God for the many blessings you’ve been given. Holidays are not straight out of Southern Living. No holiday is perfect, and that’s not the goal. Food may get burnt. Family may create drama. Visiting or welcoming in strangers can be awkward. Those things don’t ruin the holiday unless we let them. Intentional thankfulness is good for us! It reminds us that even in difficult seasons, we have much to be grateful for.
Thanksgiving is a chance to think outside of ourselves and use the gifts we’ve been given to encourage others. Our efforts to practice Thanksgiving hospitality don’t have to be perfect, or even big gestures; we just have to do something!