Do you time travel back in your mind and pick out your favorite, best-ever times? I do that with everything. I have a Best Ever Hall of Fame — best ever birthday, best ever Christmas, best ever vacation, etc., which brings me to my best ever Thanksgiving!
I’ve thought about my best ever Thanksgiving and what made it so memorable and am going to pass along the how-to have the best ever family celebration.
- Invite family into your home like honored guests. I love that my family practices hospitality.
- Add a surprise element to your celebration. Maybe a new centerpiece, a great menu item, name cards, a game or activity, special invited guests — something unexpected.
- And if you are a Thanksgiving dinner guest, don’t come with empty hands or an empty spirit. Add to the festivities or to the menu — pitch in and enjoy.
My best ever Thanksgiving came as a surprise years back when we celebrated at my daughter Wendy’s for dinner with our family tree and her husband’s parents, which makes a group of 18-25 children and adults.
The menu that Thanksgiving was stellar as usual, and we ate and talked and talked and ate. We had given thanks before piling our plates with turkey and the trimmings but after dinner and before games and dessert, Greg, the host and my son-in-law, called us into the living room.
Since we had much to be thankful for, Greg thought we might want to express our thankfulness. We usually rush through dinner and conversation but there we stood, huddled together quietly in the middle of the room.
It was a self-reflective time. Not everyone spoke but midway through, Greg’s dad, Billy John, who is normally quiet, said he was thankful that he is a child of God and he thanked the Lord for His goodness to him and the gift of faith.
I melted. I loved hearing this six foot, Harley-Davidson riding, professional truck driver speak with humility about his faith. I knew he loved fishing, hunting, his family, and the Razorbacks, but I had never heard him speak with such devotion about his Lord. To me it revealed in that moment the true nature of his character and was like meeting him for the first time.
I often think back on that Thanksgiving, my best ever, when Billy John expressed his intimate thoughts quietly before family and how lucky I was to be there when he did.
It’s not a common thing to talk about one’s faith in a casual setting, and I would have missed that golden moment had our host not said, “Let’s tell each other what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving.”
An idea for a menu surprise from Pinterest: When Wendy planned the menu, she included one of her pins from Pinterest, Fruit Cornucopias made with waffle cones and fresh fruit. Sharon, Greg’s mom, brought the fruit — kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, white grapes, pineapple, and more. Delicious!
Of course you need a waffle cone maker and the cone forms to make waffle cones. Fortunately, Greg and Wendy own a Dairy Queen franchise, so we had delicious waffle cones. If you love fruit like we do, fruit in a waffle cone is a unique combo fruit and dessert that is hard to beat!
When the cousins were younger, my daughter Stephanie liked to plan activities or art projects for the children on holidays to channel their energy. Have some crayons ready and click here for a doodle page of the best ever turkey. The turkey prints out on an 8×10 sheet of paper.
As Thanksgiving winds down and before our families go our separate ways, everyone tosses their name into a hat for our Christmas gift exchange. The children and adults draw names separately. It’s all part of our family traditions as we lunge full speed into the merriest of all celebrations, Christmas!
PS: Here’s a quick recipe new to our family dinners and one that you are going to thank me for later. It’s a vegetable, slash corn-chip dip that teen boys love – Baked Green Chilies & Corn Casserole!
May you have the best Thanksgiving ever!