Full and Thankful
FULL AND THANKFUL
Pausing to Keep Gratitude in our Thanksgiving Meals
BY TAYLOR MAY
You can almost smell the Turkey roasting, the skin crisping under bastes of butter as the Monday before Thanksgiving comes around. The last Thursday of November isn't just another Thursday. It's an all-day feast, a long-anticipated corner of the couch to watch the game, a day rich with flavor and conversation. Sans family drama, and that pie that didn't turn out quite right, it's perfect. And God bless millennials, who've given us a reason to celebrate it not once a year, but as many times as we have friends who decide to throw a Friendsgiving feast.
For some time now I've dreamed of the most perfect Thanksgiving meal. There are long tables stretching from one side of the roof to the other, every inch of the bench seats filled with people I love most cozying together for warmth. The table glitters with just enough candles to light our faces, catching glimpses of the flowers and the piles of food. There's a song playing in the background, some kind of jazz, some kind of smooth. I can't hear what they're saying, but everyone's smiling. Their hands frame the things they can't quite say with words, or reach for another spoonful of homemade stuffing, or wrap around someone next to them. It's perfect. It's all perfect. In my head.
I'm hosting a Friendsgiving feast today. It's my first time and my hopes are probably too high for my own good. I tell myself I'm doing it because I love my friends because I want to serve them and see them all in the same room together, being thankful. Which is true. But, I'm afraid, it's no truer than the desire I have to prove that I can do this. I can make a perfect atmosphere, play the charming host, prepare an ooh/aah worthy meal. I can fit this all into an inch-by-inch square and remember it forever as the time I outdid myself.
I caught myself actually, at the cutting board, arranging sliced oranges and rosemary (that simmering water was impatiently waiting for) for the perfect picture. After almost getting angry at my own shadow for disrupting my picturesqueness, God gave me the grace to stop myself — to realize this thing we millennials have created Thanksgiving to be can so easily become another thing that looks good on the outside but tastes sour on the inside.
So while the rolls baked and the brine simmered, I listened to my favorite movie play in the background. I talked to my mom about how ridiculously satisfying it is to watch bread bake and how we'd rather eat the cranberry sauce shaped like a can than the homemade kind. I listened to a song about heaven while I cleared the fridge for extra festive space. I resisted the urge that arose every so often to document all the creative things I was doing and how much everyone was going to love it.
Friends, let's not take the thanks out of Thanksgiving. I've seen them all ... "Friendsgiving", "planksgiving", "phosgiving," etc. We like to put our own spin on things, make it unique and memorable. But what a day (or a couple if you've been prepping) to just soak in the beauty of making something for people to gather around. What a time to dwell in candlelight, talking about and remembering last year and wondering what the next will bring. I hope you have 3 or 4 Thanksgiving meals, even if they are after the actual day. I hope that you have one with friends and with work and with estranged family. I hope each time to take a spoonful of mashed potatoes you look around the room and remember where you are, and how far God's brought you. I hope you feel thankful, friend.