Every year, it seems like Halloween flips some mysterious switch, and everything from November 1 onward becomes about trying to “make the most” of the upcoming holidays. Of course, in the midst of the rush, many of us probably try so hard to make everything perfect and memorable that we miss out on the really important part – the opportunity to slow down and connect meaningfully with family and friends. As I put it during a recent podcast interview, “It used to be that people would put a pumpkin on the porch. Now we have people redecorating their entire living rooms for fall!”
The pressure to create a picture-perfect holiday is everywhere, maybe even more so after the instability of the past few years, when many families had to adapt to smaller celebrations for safety reasons. But the more people I talk to about this Thanksgiving, the more people I encounter who would be truly thankful for permission to do less. One friend said “I decided I’d be thankful to not have to do dishes, so we’re using fancy paper plates and disposable cooking trays for the whole thing! I’m over it!” Another friend shared that after looking at a relentlessly busy calendar of sports tournaments for her kids, she’s declared Thanksgiving a “pajama day” and they’re ordering food from a local restaurant instead of cooking.
Of course, if putting out a big spread, decorating flawlessly, and hosting a crowd is what makes the day worth it for you, go for it! But I think of this year, more than any other in recent memory, as the year to recapture the meaning of the holidays. For some of us, that might mean doing less so we can appreciate the important things more. When I asked my teens about having a slower, simpler Thanksgiving with fewer guests this year, my older son said, “Yes, please. I feel like there’s always so much to do. I need to just relax and spend time with my family. That’s the only thing I care about.”
If relaxing and spending time with family (or friends!) is on your wish list for the season, too, we’ve got lots of resources for fun and conversation you can enjoy together. On our Thanksgiving page this year, you’ll find:
The best part is that no matter how big or small your celebration, these resources make it easy to put the focus where it belongs: On enjoying each other’s company and making memories together. That’s a Thanksgiving to be truly thankful for!
Overnight French Toast is a hands-off way to get everyone fed on Thanksgiving morning!
Overnight Caramel Pecan French Toast
This “Would You Rather” game is sure to keep everyone entertained at the holiday table!
Printables, conversation cards, and tips for connecting without conflict…you can find them all, plus more, at our Thanksgiving Conversation hub.
2023 The Family Dinner Project