I don’t know about you, but at my house as the holidays approach, it is sometimes hard to be thankful. Let’s face it, if we are mom, the holidays can be work–significantly extra work.
I remember a period of several years when holidays became a chore rather than a celebration. After spending more time in the grocery store than I really wanted, I’d think of all the preparation I still needed to do. More time on my feet than energy I had to give. With extended family more than a two day’s drive, all the food prep fell on me.
Of course, with four teens under roof, everyone had a different “favorite” dish that needed to be prepared.
And then there was the “timing” of dinner. With three kids dating, we had to determine when everyone “including their dates” could all be at our house at the same time.
“Mom, you are going to make your homemade bread again this year, aren’t you?”
“Don’t forget to make a turtle pie.”
Even a girlfriend who had been part of the family for over a year had her “favorite dish” request.
At least the meal planning was easy. Requests times five can equal an entire meal.
Before the thanksgiving meal was complete and dishes were washed, the conversation would quickly turn to newspaper ads, black Friday shopping, and Christmas wish lists.
With that conversation came more exhaustion for me.
The shopping, the making sure I picked the right size and the right color, and, oh, yeah, there would be another huge meal to prepare–and the Thanksgiving dishes weren’t even washed yet!
And then there was the fact that the kids would be scrambling to get to their “date’s” house for another meal, that left me with all the cleanup to do.
As I allowed the holidays to become my life’s sentence, it occurred to me that playing the martyr wasn’t doing anyone any good. My focus needed to change. What was I teaching my teens about being thankful especially when I couldn’t be thankful that the holidays were here?
And then it occurred to me. How do we learn to be thankful?
We learn to be thankful by experiencing difficulties.
It is in the working together that we experience what it is like not to have to do things all by ourselves.
And my planning of the holidays changed!
We called the kids together for a family meeting letting the kids know that I would not be doing all the holiday preparations as usual. Each person who ate would be part of the clean-up. Everyone would also contribute something to the meal.
Instead of making that homemade bread, I taught my daughter to do it. Instead of making that turtle pie, my son did. Instead of being a slave to the kitchen, I spent time with each of my teens as they prepared their part of the meal. I was there to encourage them and teach them the ropes of preparing a holiday feast while I cleaned the kitchen as they worked. Even my son and his girlfriend were there to make “her” favorite dish. And we all worked together.
And the conversation at dinner took on a different tone. They became thankful for what the other person had contributed to the meal. They took note of what I typically had done for them.
And each person chose their desired position for dishes detail.
And finally, I wasn’t too tired to be thankful.
Psalm 118:1, 5
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
Little did I know at the time that I was setting the stage for the future. This year all the kids will be home for the holidays with their families. Our oldest son has already told me that he and his wife are in charge of the turkey. Another is bringing his special cheesecake. Who knows what else will grace our table.
All I know is that whatever it is, I won’t be too tired to be thankful.
Dare you to share in the holiday preparation so that your teens will learn to be thankful for all you do for them.
“Let go…and let God”,
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