Notice: All forms on this website are temporarily down for maintenance. You will not be able to complete a form to request information or a resource. We apologize for any inconvenience and will reactivate the forms as soon as possible.

Home for Thanksgiving

a family gathering around the dinner table for Thanksgiving
Practice these suggestions to prepare yourself for time with family around the holidays.

If there were more songs written about Thanksgiving, I think I’d be better prepared for this week’s holiday. With Christmas, we have Christmas songs playing on the radio and in stores for weeks leading up to the big day. TV commercials remind us of the gifts we still need to buy, and the infinite list of Hallmark movies keeps our minds focused on our own Christmas bucket lists. We’re repeatedly reminded about traditions and family.

Thanksgiving also holds a lot of traditions, expectations and family memories. But without as many reminders, here we are: The holiday is in two days, and somehow it snuck up on many of us.

Old and new

Thanksgiving is deeply entrenched in tradition, but a lot of those traditions have changed, at least for me.

When I was growing up, my family and I traveled for hours to attend Thanksgiving gatherings at my grandparents’ house with all the aunts, uncles and cousins. We often combined Thanksgiving and Christmas and exchanged gifts. We kids would eat and then rush off to play with cousins we rarely got to see, while the adults always took care of all the details.

We no longer gather with extended family for the holiday, as each branch of the family has grown and started doing its own celebrations. Thanksgiving just looks different now.

But family togetherness is still a hallmark — see what I did there? — of the Thanksgiving holiday. Regardless of what life season we’re in or what our current circumstances are, we’ll likely be spending more time with family members over the next few days.

That said, no matter how close we are with our family members and how much fun we have when together, there are always challenges when you get a group of people together. Even the best celebrations have a few less-than-perfect moments. Participating in family time as adults also brings more responsibilities. The holidays may not look and feel like what we remember experiencing as kids.

Road trip!

Two weeks ago, I climbed into the car with my parents and two-year-old niece — my two brothers, my sister-in-law, and my six-week-old nephew rode in a second vehicle — for a seven-hour drive to Texas to attend a wedding. Five adults, a teenager, a toddler, and an infant on a 900-mile roundtrip journey.

It wasn’t exactly Thanksgiving, but we definitely checked the “family togetherness” box. As we look forward to this week’s holiday, here are a few things I reflected on during this trip that we can remember as we gather with family.

Be willing to put others’ preferences first.

I say “preferences” and not “needs” because, honestly, it’s usually the preferences that are hardest to negotiate, right? What (or where or when) to eat, what music to listen to, what activity to do after lunch.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,” Paul wrote to the Philippians, “but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” He followed that admonition with a description of how Christ lived during His time on earth: emptying and humbling himself.

Case in point: I would have picked a different fast-food place at least once during our trip. But choosing to walk in Jesus’ footsteps means putting our own wants aside.

Express your opinions or preferences.

This is hard for me. It’s easier to just let others make the decision and know that, ultimately, I’ll be fine with whatever they pick. Again, we’re usually talking about preferences and not real needs.

But we need to be able to voice our preferences to the people closest to us. Even if it doesn’t work out for us to get what we requested, we can know each other better. As we made plans for our trip back home, I suggested we get Chinese takeout for dinner — and that’s what we did.

Give thanks.

This is Thanksgiving, and what reminds us more of what we can be thankful for than spending time with those we love? During our trip, we made so many great memories: teasing each other, laughing at the two-year-old’s comments, and just being together. I’m grateful for that.

No matter how the road trip or gathering goes this year, take time to truly thank God for your family. We often take so much for granted. I realize that family will be especially complicated for some, but even in difficult circumstances, we can thank God for how He has worked in our lives through our families.

Just like our holiday memories from earlier years, these circumstances will someday change, too, and we will look back with a new wave of nostalgia on what we have right now. So give thanks, friend. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 2023 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved. 

Share This Post:

About the Author

Lauren Dunn
Lauren Dunn

Lauren Dunn is an education reporter for World News Group. She loves stories (especially the good ones), making pizza (usually double pepperoni), and spending time with friends and family. Lauren has lived most of her life in Wichita, Kan., but still regularly gets lost when driving around town.

Related Content