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Practical Tips for Surviving the Holidays

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A stack of flyers on a table

How were your Thanksgiving holidays? Are you full of stuffing and great memories? 

I’m blessed to say this was one of our best Thanksgivings ever with scrumptious food, laughter around the table, the perfect Christmas tree and our favorite tradition of all, the family blessing jar.

Family Blessing Jar - Marty's Musings

But one year our celebration wasn’t so perfect……..

The smell of turkey baking in the oven wafts throughout the house as a little black kitty meows plaintively for a bite.

The children, all snug in their beds,  awake to the sounds of the Macy’s Parade on the television. As a light breakfast of cereal is eaten to ward off hunger, the family prepares for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. The turkey is a must, box stuffing is acceptable and everyone brings a side dish

Sound idyllic and perfect?

These are the memories our family holds dear each year as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday together. However, even the best planned, most efficiently organized holiday meal can turn into a disaster of epic proportions. Or maybe there’s just some inconvenience and drama thrown in for good measure. Whichever the case, I’ve been there!

As the “hostess with the mostest” as my husband calls me, I work diligently so that our family lunch is ready by 1 PM like clockwork. On one of our most memorable Thanksgiving holidays several years ago everything went awry. 

Tips for Surviving the Holidays - Marty's Musings

I always prepare the turkey for baking the evening before, the cranberry apple and sweet potato casserole and rolls ahead of time to ensure a beautiful family meal. The turkey is in the oven by 8 AM and all the food has a scheduled start time. This one particular year? Not so much.

At 11 AM our electricity went completely out. Blackness. Silence from the parade watchers as the tv cut off. Not what an overworked, perfectionist hostess needs at all!

The turkey was almost done but the sides had yet to be started. After momentary panic I had a game plan in motion. Luckily we lived down the street from our church so my oldest daughter and I piled the back of the van with everything yet to be cooked. We let ourselves into our church’s kitchen and took advantage of their large ovens.

Tips for Surviving the Holidays - Marty's Musings

Sadly, I didn’t communicate well enough with my parents and they ate a sandwich at home. The rest of the guests were entertained while waiting hungrily for the turkey and fixins. After the remainder of the meal finished cooking we headed home with the feast and lunch became dinner even as the power returned. 

It wasn’t an ideal Thanksgiving but it sure made great memories! Sometimes the worst circumstances bind a family together.

From that experience I learned some valuable lessons and practical tips for surviving the holidays.

Remember why you celebrate the day. Is it to remember the pilgrims and the history of our country? Or is it the celebration of family and friends gathered around the table from distances afar.

A group of people sitting at a table with food, with Holiday and Thanksgiving

For our family, it’s more than just a national holiday. It’s the day of strictly observed family traditions.We hold Thanksgiving as the epitome of our year’s celebration.

Much of it centers around our blessing jar tradition, a time when the gratitudes gathered throughout the year spill out from a simple mason jar as we give thanks together. 

Plan ahead. Holidays can be tricky with family at times. If you are the host, ask if it has to be observed the same way every year. Could you talk to another family member about rotating homes for the holiday or even taking a break and going out to a restaurant for a meal? Talk about the arrangements a few weeks before the actual date so there is time for discussion and negotiation.

A person holding a plate of food

Make it as simple as possible. Prepare special side dishes or desserts ahead of time. My family loves the familiarity of serving the same exact meal every year, but sometimes I try to change up at least a little something. I know it will be received so much more positively if it actually tastes good! Practice makes perfect!

A person cooking food in a kitchen

Enjoy making memories and remember that sometimes the worst holidays can turn into the best family stories.

For more of our family stories check out my post on how my adopted daughter inspires me, or the day I flunked my homeschool kid. You might even enjoy knowing why we take a family vacation or how I speak words of life into my children.

This post previously appeared at ForRent.com. For more details please visit the ForRent.com blog.

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  1. What a great story Marty. I wish everyone would remember that the holidays produce life long memories and being grateful is so important.

  2. Good tips. I remember when my mother passed the torch and I hosted the first time. I was so nervous and so happy when everyone seemed happy, content, full and grateful. I love your gratitude jar. I may suggest that this year. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi, Clearissa. I hope your family will try the blessing jar. It’s so simple yet important! Congrats to you for hosting a wonderful gathering!

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