When Will It Be My Turn to Host the Family Thanksgiving Dinner?

3 years ago

Today we will not get to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while playing parade bingo. Our immediate four person family (and the dog) will instead spend the majority of the parade time slot driving to Pennsylvania to be with my side of the family for the holiday this year. Next year, we will split the day in half between my husband's mom and dad. Rinse repeat for the prior years, the years yet to come. While I am thankful for large families who want our presence and whose presence we want to be in, it is exhausting to always be the one to travel for the holidays. When will it be our turn to host a big holiday like Thanksgiving?

I questioned my mom about the issue recently. "When did you first host Thanksgiving?" She thought about it briefly. "Oh, I was 45, and they only let me do it then because they thought I was dying of cancer."


Credit: Jenna Hatfield

It makes me sad. Not unthankful, just sad. And maybe cranky. I want to do really cool things that I see pinned on Pinterest and on blogs that I read. I want to follow advice on how to host Thanksgiving and enjoy it. I want to make ridiculously pretentious side-dishes to set alongside old family favorites. I want to call up my grandmother in a panic about the turkey or the gravy. I want all of the women and some of the men to bustle about our kitchen, bumping into one another, filling our home with laughter and the sound of generations meshing and mashing potatoes. I want to create a lasting memory here, in this place that I love so dearly.

It's not fully selfish either. Sure, I want it for me and for my husband, but I want to host Thanksgiving for my relatives. I want to cook them something fabulous. I want them to see my thankfulness for them by the work I put into a big family meal. I want them to know that I would go to the ends of the Earth for them by providing them with yummy treats. It's one of the ways I show love: to cook and to give. While I can always bring a (pretentious!) side dish, they don't always travel well. I do take something, but it never feels like enough. I want to give my all, fill a table with all of the goodness and love and thankfulness and gratefulness of the past year for the people who surround it on all sides... for those not present this year for whatever the reason.

I also want my kids to have a Thanksgiving (or holiday) that they don't spend upwards of four hours in the car, especially as our youngest one seems to battle worsening car sickness as he gets older. I want them to be able to hang out in their pajamas until after the parade ends. I want them to be able to escape to their own rooms to cool off or chill out or just relax if they're feeling stressed by the sheer number of extended family members. I want them to be able to play in their playroom without fear of bothering someone else or breaking something. I want them to help in the days leading up to the big event and on the day of, to understand that families work together. I want to make a thankful tree and turkey cupcakes with them, and have other family members add to them, help, and appreciate the handwork of these little guys.

But mostly, I just want to sit at the end of the table, opposite my loving spouse, and make eye contact over the hustle and bustle of our individual busy, loud, loving, passionate families, brought together by the two of us... and smile, inside and out, for the blessing of each other, of our own four person family and our dog, for the life we have created together. For family, in all of their craziness.

Happy Thanksgiving, whether you're hosting, attending, or serving somewhere today. (And PS: Could you let me know when you first hosted Thanksgiving for my totally unscientific research?)


Family & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog.

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