Thanksgiving, like any major holiday, is packed with emotions, memories from seasons past, current family tensions, and the losses of the past few years.
Perhaps your Thanksgiving is filled with memories from your childhood. Mine certainly is!
I think of my grandmama’s famous cornbread stuffing (of course with my modern twists!) and her homemade cranberry sauce which I’ve now updated into a chic dish of cranberry chutney. These food-infused traditions are all reminiscent of times gone by, and I look forward to passing them on to my own kids.
While Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of gratitude for friends, family, and all of God’s provision, it can also be a time of anxiety and trepidation. And grief.
I’m experiencing this firsthand.
I really miss my brother, John. He was a Connector-of-People Extraordinaire and a lover of souls like no other. And we always shared Thanksgiving together.
Every family has someone who’s the “glue” of their tribe — the one who helps everyone feel seen and welcome, the one who cracks a much-needed joke at just the right time, the one who listens like nobody else can.
John was our glue.
And without him, gathering isn’t as easy and carefree as it once was.
As I write this, I do so with some anticipation and anxiety about what this particular Thanksgiving will bring.
Maybe you’re feeling the same.
If you’re concerned about what lies ahead, here’s a suggestion: prepare some conversation starters (and disruptors!) Have them ready so that people will have plenty to talk about besides the dangerous and controversial topics like politics and _______ (fill in the blank for your household)!
Here are a few of the questions I plan to have in my back pocket:
- Which teacher are you most thankful for and why? What did you learn from him or her?
- Which of your grandparents are you most thankful for and why? What did they teach you from their experience in life?
- What musician or type of music are you most thankful for? Why?
- What book are you most thankful for? Why?
- Who is your favorite hero and why? What qualities do you admire in that person?
- What movie or TV show are you most thankful for and why? What did it teach you about life, love, family, or other people’s experiences?
- Who do you most admire, and why?
- What, from this year, do you feel most grateful for?
- What, from your entire life, do you feel most grateful for?
- Which traditions are you most thankful for and why?
- What dreams do you have?
- Where have you lived that you enjoyed most, and why?
- What’s your favorite holiday, and what memories do you have of it?
- What was the best gift you’ve received, and why was it so special?
With a little preparation (and maybe a little luck), you can help your family enjoy a Thanksgiving that is memorable, low-stress, and filled with gratitude.
From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving