My husband is a master in the kitchen. He loves the organized chaos that comes with timing dishes just right and swirling up a delicious feast by sheer determination to make the clock and the ingredients and the appliances work together.
He likes the thrill of it, to be sure, but he also enjoys serving others. He has this natural ability to whip up a delicious meal and serve all while appearing to do so with minimal effort.
Cooking the entire Thanksgiving meal? That is his actual delight.
A couple of years ago he stumbled into cooking his very first Thanksgiving feast when we realized the typical gathering just wasn’t happening. We invited his newly widowed mother to our humble table and discovered the absolute joy of a small Thanksgiving holiday.
Last year we repeated the scene but with new guests.
We were pretty sure we’d never go back.
But this year held something different. Back to the large family gathering. The potluck style Thanksgiving. To be honest, the invitation was unexpected. And we were a bit hesitant. Hadn’t we started a new tradition? A restful one. An introvert’s dream holiday, really.
Yet, we gathered up the energy and went to the gathering with our salad to feed thirty or so in hand.
And in the letting go of what we wanted to hold onto so tightly, the words I wrote in this space two years ago resurfaced in my mind:
“I want to embrace tradition while fully acknowledging its certain evolution. I want to look around the table and feel the gift of the presence of whoever is there… Jesus gave us pretty simple, though not easy, instructions. Love God and love others. If my traditions help me serve that purpose, I’m all in. But where I find the tradition ruling over me, I want to be quick to release its power over me.”
This year we squeezed in tight around the table. Spills happened. The children fidgeted and finally broke away from the table to play. And, as anticipated, there were family members I barely had the chance to say hello to for the busyness of it all.
Yet, my heart was thankful for the people. For the invitation. For family.
Here’s to realizing that you don’t have to host to be hospitable. To sacrificing in order to show others they’re appreciated. To showing up so we can love as we’ve been loved.
May we find the joy that comes from sacrificial love this holiday season, and may we give that love generously.