Last year we hosted 12 people for Thanksgiving. This year our guest total will be 14, all sleeping overnight in our house for several days. I’m not heavy breathing about it. Dare I say, I’m actually looking forward to it?
I love to cook comfort food, so Thanksgiving is totally my jam. I love making classics like Green Bean Casserole with Bacon and cranberry sauce. I also love trying new foods and thumbing through magazines and cookbooks for new sides to bring to the table.
Last year during the big in-law jamboree, I cooked a full Thanksgiving meal the weekend before and then another one on actual Thanksgiving. I could barely feel my feet after standing in my kitchen for so long. Even a strong gin and tonic didn’t make things better. My family expects these giant meals, don’t they?
After Thanksgiving last year, I felt really drained. It was great to spend quality time with our family, but I felt like I needed a vacation from our vacation. Not really what I was going for because I didn’t get all the relaxing time I wanted. I cooked, cooked, and cooked some more. It was all really fantastic food, but not the holiday I truly wanted.
Months later, I read this book called, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, and one of my takeaways from the book was to create the life you want to live. For me, I’ve always been the host and always doing ALL of the cooking. It brings me joy to cook, don’t get me wrong, but I also feel an obligation to family and friends when I host that I need to make something really spectacular, which ends up meaning a significant time in the kitchen.
The life I want during the holidays is one in which I cook, relax, and enjoy the holiday. That’s possible, right? I know that in order to achieve that, I’m going to have to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to need to ask for help.
With guests arriving soon, I picked up the phone and talked to my sister-in-law about the upcoming visit. I mentioned my desire to have help and asked if they would be willing to be in charge of dessert. I sat back and listened as my sister-in-law talked about this awesome cranberry apple crisp she was going to make. It hit me then that it’s important to ask for help because as the host, it will totally help you get through the holiday. But it also reminded me to honor the joy others have for food during the holidays. Ask your guests to bring their favorite dish or be in charge of a course. Asking for help is my one thing I’m doing this holiday season, and I’m so excited for the extra time and new found joy it will bring to us this holiday.
Why is it so hard to ask for help when we need it?
It’s something I’m working on even when it’s not holiday season. Even when we host friends, I often will catch myself about to say, “Don’t bring anything!” This holiday season will be different because I’m different. The meals will be easier, people will still enjoy it and they may very well enjoy it even more because they have joy and ownership in the meal preparation.