The Secret For Glorious Family Gatherings

Thanksgiving is next week and our family will be together for 4 days.

Four glorious days!

Glorious, that is, unless I let myself become frazzled with cooking, cleaning and planning the “perfect” holiday memories. I have a choice to make. Will I become the martyr momma and wear myself out with cooking ahead of time and making sure everyone know how hard I’ve worked to make this visit memorable and filled with everyone’s favorite things?

We all wish for peaceful holiday gatherings, right? But what is the secret to enjoying those glorious family gatherings? Here’s what I’m concluding as my thoughts run rampant with preparations.

Our out of town “kids” arrive either Tuesday night or early Wednesday next week. That means we all get to have dinner together on Wednesday night. Yay! Next question, what should I make for dinner?

I mean, the possibilities are endless. It needs to be simple because of all the preparations needed for Thanksgiving dinner. It also needs to be on the light side - who wants to eat a heavy meal the day before Thanksgiving? And it needs to fit with how we are all eating right now, which is a mixture of organic, non-GMO, keto, gluten-free, anything goes and let’s save the carbs and sugar for Thursday this week!

Why, oh why, am I fretting? What does it matter? It’s one meal of many for the few days we will be together. But in the next breath, I start to imagine breakfast for the four days. I could say it’s every man for himself on Thursday, but my kitchen isn’t very big and we have a lot to do in the morning, so maybe a breakfast casserole I can make ahead of time would be best.

I know, I know. No family time is perfect, but my mom heart strives so hard to make the impossible happen. Before you know it, Christmas will be upon me and I have to make cookies and candy: gluten-free, gluten-full, nuts, no nuts, brittle - but maybe no nuts at all this year? Is that still brittle?

In the chaos and excitement of being together, it’s time to make some decisions about who I choose to be this year over the holidays.

Of all the lessons I’m learning over the years about being the mom of adult children, this one is the most important. It’s not what I do, plan, or organize that counts. What matters the most is who I am and who I become in the process of adjusting to my new life stage.

There are many things beyond my control. I can’t control who visits, how long they visit, what the weather will be or if anyone gets sick. I can control my attitudes, however.

Will I choose peace over stress? If I choose to make elaborate meals will I also choose to cook with a grateful heart and let go of resentment if no one fusses over my efforts? If I choose to keep meals and plans simple, will I also choose to feel confident and not apologize for those decisions?

They say that if momma ain’t happy, nobody ain’t happy. So will I choose to be happy and content for four days or will I quietly stew and wish for more time? What tone will I choose to set for those precious days?

My kids and husband know me well. Nick often asks if I’m ok when we are all together. They know and sense when I’m off kilter, when I’m feeling upset or tense about life. My goal this time is to choose a different path, a calmer countenance and a trusting heart.

“But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” Psalm 131:2

“…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...I have learned the secret of being content…I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

It’s often not the big things, but the small burnt dishes or puddings that don’t set properly or gluten-free offerings that just don’t taste the same that set me off. So here is my resolve for this time…

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27

Whatever time you have (or don’t have) with your family next week, I hope and pray that you will find the resolve to choose joy, to choose peace, and to choose contentment with your life.

I will also pray that we don’t dry out the turkey or burn our pumpkin pies.

Lori Ziegler1 Comment