Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving, even though I'm not a huge fan of turkey and I pretty much hate football. What I love is gathering around the table with family and talking. I love the smells. I love not having to rush around buying and wrapping gifts (not that I don't like giving gifts...I do, but it's nice to have a holiday that doesn't involve it).

We do something special as we sit around the table on Thanksgiving...and other holidays as well. It's become a tradition that used to evoke groans from the kids, but now has become an expected part of our gatherings. As a matter of fact, the first time I skipped it (because I was tired of their complaining) they groaned even louder! I guess they liked it after all.

What generated such a fuss through the years? Questions. I spend some time prior to each holiday dinner composing questions for my guests. Sometimes it's just the family gathered around the table, and sometimes we are fortunate enough to include friends or extended family.

Everyone at the table takes a question, without looking at it. As dinner or dessert is wrapping up, we go around the table, read our questions and share our answers. This allows everyone an opportunity to speak and be heard and it gives us all a chance to learn something we often didn't know about each other.

The questions are related to the particular holiday we're celebrating. For instance, my husband's brothers and their wives joined us for Labor Day one year and the work-related questions revealed so much about them that we didn't know; like how one of the brothers would have liked to have been a professional singer if he had worked his ideal job (I didn't even know he could sing!) and how his wife always wanted to work in the neonatal nursery rocking the premies.

Thanksgiving questions naturally revolve around thankfulness and sharing the feast. Here are some of the questions from past years:

If you could have anyone else here at the table with us, who would it be? Of course, this question often brings tears.

If you could have someone you've never met at the table with us, who would that be? Oddly enough, my mother said, 'Bob Newhart.' We found that amusing!

What happened during the past year that you are most thankful for? This question got my son-in-law in trouble when he neglected to mention marrying my daughter that year! He chooses his answers more carefully now!

If you couldn't be here with us for Thanksgiving dinner, where would you like to be?

You get the idea. Christmas questions include: What's your favorite Christmas movie? and What's the favorite Christmas present you ever received?

Why am I including this in the Green Grandma blog? Quite simply because building stronger relationships with our kids is part of having a healthy family. And this does help build stronger relationships. Giving every child a chance to have "center stage" at a dining room table full of chatty adults can do wonders for his self esteem. Of course, there can't be any criticism or mocking of what he has to say and that guideline should be established before the questions are even passed out.

The challenge of having grown children is having to share them with their in-laws. Holidays tend to be little more than stressful days of running here and there and eating way too much. That's why we're celebrating Thanksgiving today, on Wednesday, so they're free to enjoy their Thursday with their other families. I'll find it a bit lonely to prepare the meal alone as my husband, who usually prepares the turkey, spends his day at work. But the pay off will be a relaxed group of people gathering around the table, enjoying the bounty which God has richly provided, laughing at the lovely little Lady Laura's antics, and sharing our answers once more.

It should be a wonderful evening. And this year, that's what I'm thankful for.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by the people you love and filled to overflowing with gratitude.


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