by Alena Tauriainen writing as Alena Wendall @alenawendall
I remember hosting my very first Thanksgiving dinner. Fyi..the following is a perfect disaster scenario for someone’s story.
I should explain a little a bit about my family. My parents are from the islands and I was raised on typical Trinidadian foods. Hence, our Thanksgiving dinner looked a little different than those in the states. Okay, to be truthful, a lot different. We served things like macaroni pie, plantains, and rice. There was always rice.
My husband’s family is from Finland and they opt for a traditional Thanksgiving. Turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and, of course, my mother-in-law’s famous stuffing.
Did I mention at that time I had never cooked for both families like that before?
That day, I woke up super excited and determined that everything was going to be perfect. I had my step-mom and my mother-in-law in the kitchen with me. Both had an opinion on everything I did that day. EVERYTHING.
Did I mention I was pregnant at the time?
I thought I was doing great. We were close. I was plating all the big items for the meal. I was listening, nodding, and smiling. Then it hit.
Did you see that emotion zing across the kitchen? No? It was that fast.
When someone told me how to pour the rice into the serving dish, I lost it. Unequivocally lost it. One minute, I was pouring rice, and the next, I was in the bathroom crying.
All I remembered was my husband appearing in our bathroom. He just stood there until I was ready. He never said a word about me crying. Just waited. Smart man.
Later that afternoon, after all the food was eaten, leftovers bagged and put away and we were on our second round of dessert, both of my sisters-in-law started laughing. I didn’t know what was funny. I didn’t think I’d missed a joke but apparently, I had.
They said that they knew it was going to hit the fan, so they deliberately stayed outside. Smart women for sure!
I bring up that story because if I’d taken a moment before all of the craziness to reflect on what was truly important—time with family, laughing, joking, eating—then I wouldn’t have been so wound up about everything being perfect.
Thanksgiving is a time of reflecting on the blessings in your life. Being thankful. Sure, we look forward to the meal, but really, whether you make a baked turkey, a smoked turkey or a fried turkey—it doesn’t matter. Paper products versus real dishes, freshly made rolls versus store-bought—those things aren’t deal breakers, not if you remember what’s really important.
So, before the craziness starts…take a moment to reflect.
Then when the green beans are over-cooked, or some very helpful family member tells you for the thirtieth time how to do something, you will have the patience to let it go. Because you will be smarter than I was that Thanksgiving, and you will remember to focus on what’s truly important.
Oh, and if I had to give one extra tip for a happy Thanksgiving dinner? Delegate. Get those in-laws and siblings to bring something and/or put them in charge of something. Share the load. Share the fun.
Writing as Alena Wendall, Alena Tauriainen pens contemporary Christian romance novels that always end with a happily ever after. By day, she partners with her lifelong mate Clyde, to run the family HVAC business. She manages both business and family life with four lovable but crazy kids. She is the Retreats Coordinator for My Book Therapy. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner with Books & Such Literary Management. Visit her at alenawendall.com.