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Monday Mom challenge: Open your holiday table

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Thankful for friends

The holidays aren't just coming - they are practically here! Have you made your Thanksgiving plans? Do you know where you will eat? What you will eat? With whom you will eat? Are all your friends set? Are you sure?

I bet there's someone in your realm who is not quite set for Thanksgiving - or maybe "set" in the strictest sense but for whom something different would be welcome. Whether the issue is distance from immediate family, work commitments, or something else, there's someone to whom you could open your holiday table. So do it!

Not always with family

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday, but I've had some dreary ones. We've lived quite far from immediate family and traveling for the long weekend hasn't always been realistic. As much as I have tried to make a lovely small holiday for just the two or three of us and as much I was thankful for the blessings of my life, there were some lonely holidays. Roasted turkey breast for two just isn't quite the same. After one such holiday, I vowed to never let it happen again. I would have full and celebratory Thanksgiving tables somehow, someway. Even if it meant - no, especially if it meant - including people I just barely knew.

Opportunity

If you've never experienced a Thanksgiving away from family, count another blessing. We still don't live close to immediate family and my husband often has to work on Thanksgiving, so I have certainly put my vow to the test. If I am going to have a good Thanksgiving, it's up to me to fill my table and make it so. And it's been really fun in the process.

We've invited young coworkers of my husband, sometimes recent immigrants who know little of the Thanksgiving tradition. We've invited single people, couples and families. And after several years of repeated Thanksgivings with one family, we have created a new Thanksgiving "family" and started new traditions. I've been so glad we've done this. There are different faces at the table each year, and always something new to learn, something new for which to be thankful.

The last minute

Although many plan for Thanksgiving weeks or even months in advance, being open to last minute changes is key. Sometimes plans fall through at the last minute and a friend or acquaintance finds him or herself in Thanksgiving limbo. Our friends know that they don't even have to ask to bring one or two more along - everyone is welcome. The important thing is that our holidays is as inclusive as possible - and there always seems to be enough turkey and stuffing to go around.

So as you make your final Thanksgiving plans, ask around. Does everyone you know have a place to go? Are you sure? Because I'm sure there's room for more at your table.

Check out our SheKnows Thanksgiving for recipes, decoration, crafts and more!

For more of our Monday Mom series:

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