Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In my family, this is generally the only time during the year that we are all able to be together. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins come from far and wide to my parents’ home in St. Louis for a few days to reconnect, eat good food, shop, and relive old memories. My dad — who used to be a caterer — is the chef, and he consistently wows his audience with course after course of amazing dishes. It’s always quite a feast.
With ten different desserts, appetizers aplenty, and a full buffet line for the entrée course, it would be easy to assume that Thanksgiving in my house is all about the food. But my dad taught me early on that while the food is certainly important, it’s really just a side dish to the main event: bringing the family together. To my dad, Thanksgiving is the best holiday because there’s no pressure to give gifts. Instead, the real gift is slowing down enough to enjoy one another’s company. Thanksgiving is a reminder to us all that investing in relationships takes time, not money.
A few years ago, after a tough year for many in our family, I can remember my dad gathering all 30 of us together before the meal. Before we said a prayer, we took a moment to give thanks for a matriarch and a patriarch of our family who had passed away that year. It was a reminder of the relationships — past, present, and future — that we celebrate. A reminder that their legacy lives on in the faces around the table, and that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to gather together.
Last year, our Thanksgiving looked a little different. My family had gathered the week before for my cousin’s wedding in Savannah, Georgia, so we decided to take a break from our family tradition and each go our separate ways to celebrate this holiday. As a result, it was just my husband and me at home in Minnesota. While our table was a little less full and the food a little less abundant, it was no less enjoyable. We certainly missed our family gathering, but there was something special about making the day our own. We had pot roast instead of turkey, and in lieu of pumpkin pie, we shared a delicious pumpkin cake with cream cheese and caramel frosting for dessert. We took the day at our own pace: lazily watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in bed with breakfast, slowly working in the kitchen, and lingering over our meal at our dining room table. It was a day to invest in each other, enjoy the things we love most, and just relax.
In the whirlwind of travel, preparing food, and the pressure of reconnecting with family, I encourage you to slow down and put the relationships first. Here are a few questions to reflect on this week:
1. Who do you want to invest in this Thanksgiving and during the holiday season to come?
2. How might you use your time, your words, and your attention (not just your money) to remind those you care about most that they are loved and cherished?
3. Are there ways you can kindly widen your circle to remember the neglected ones in our community and our world during this season of joy and love?
As we head into the holiday season, will you join me in keeping the spirit of Thanksgiving alive? It’s so easy to lose yourself in the shopping, the parties, and the unending list of gifts that we forget that this season is first and foremost about relationships. It’s supposed to be a time of celebration, not stress. A time to take a breath, relax, and enjoy the time with loved ones, whether that’s just one person or your entire family.
What relationships do you want to invest in during this season? How do you plan to make them — and not your growing Christmas gift list — the focus of the holidays? Add a comment below.
P.S. Consider how you might use gift-giving to invest in your relationships, too. I shared a few ideas in last week’s post, but how about a gift that keeps on giving: the knowledge, alignment, and confidence to connect your money and your relationship in a new way. For one week only, I’m offering my Marriage & Money session survey at a deep discount. And, in the spirit of holiday cheer, I’m throwing in a free 30-minute coaching session with me when you buy the survey! Check back on Black Friday to find out more!