As the temperatures suddenly turn from unusually warm autumn days to our first light snow, I sense the coming holiday season. If I am not careful, anxiety can blow in like a cold wind.
We are hosting Thanksgiving at the Wright House this year, Sweet William and I. It’s my very first year. Expectations of perfection can kill the joy of anticipation.
As an only child, I am continually thankful for my cousins and extended family. When I was a child, we went to my aunt and uncle’s house because they had more room for us to spread out. As life changed, the way it always does, we moved our Thanksgiving dinner to my cousin’s house, where it became a two-day event. She and her husband loved having people gather in their home, and they were such welcoming hosts. Their house became party central through the years, with any event an opportunity for food, family, friends, and good times.
Our family struggled to make a decision about our November gathering this year. Then a couple of weeks ago, Sweet William and I were suddenly on the same wave length, and the decision was made. Now lists run through my head, are spoken into my Notes app on my cell, and eventually land in my bullet journal. My head swirls.
There is much to do before I begin to even think about grocery shopping or preparing food. While we often have people around our table for food and conversation, a group the size of my family and the menu items we prepare take additional planning.
Recently I visited in a beautifully decorated home with wide open spaces, a coffee bar and room to spread out. I enjoyed the lovely atmosphere and hospitable ambiance. When I came back to our humble abode and began to look around at all the old things clustered in its rooms, I began to compare. Dissatisfaction started to sneak into my heart.
During fifty years of marriage, we have gathered things and been happy to live among them. But we don’t have a newly remodeled kitchen, an open concept floor plan or the latest trending decor minimally sitting on a few surfaces.
Comparison kills joy. I once heard someone say, you can compare or you can connect, but you cannot do both.
There’s truth in that statement. When I compare with another’s home, clothes, ministry, or gifts, it begins to divides us. We cannot connect as friends. When I look with eyes of envy, I miss the blessings of my own life. How can I cheer and encourage you when I’m secretly measuring myself as if it is a competition?
As I sat in my quiet place this early morning, praying and thinking of what lies ahead of me in the coming weeks, a thought emerged. What I want for this home is the presence and peace that come from Jesus Christ. And that will only be available if His presence and peace reside in me. A house is just brick and mortar, wood and shingles. People who abide in them create the atmosphere of love, acceptance, and welcome. And that is what I want to give my family as they open the door and say, “We’re here.”
This week, I will be making my annual Thanksgiving List, a ritual that has become important and necessary for me. I need to remember all the good in my life, the multiplied blessings coming from the Heavenly Father’s gracious hand, because I can be forgetful. I will be thankful for this sturdy house, for chairs and tables where my loved ones can sit and eat and laugh and love. We will be warm and well fed. And we will be together.
I am blessed beyond measure. I will give thanks in all things.