Third 5-Minute Friday: Table

This year was the first Thanksgiving I have “hosted” with my family, and it was the first Thanksgiving that my husband and I have made the majority of the meal. I have always resisted this undertaking. When we lived – sans children – away from family for 5 years, we went out to eat or got takeout. No frills. No hoopla. No cooking. No table setup. No dishes to clean. It was glorious. This year, we are also away from family, having recently moved out of state. I was tempted to go out to eat again, but that seemed a bit wasteful from a financial perspective now that we are a family of 4. Plus, one of the appealing aspects of a holiday like this when you aren’t having guests or needing to be somewhere is having no time commitments. Making a dinner reservation would be a commitment. That didn’t appeal me.

So, this year, we ordered turkey breast from Boston Market. We ordered mashed potatoes and gravy. We bought a vegetarian turkey and gravy for my vegetarian daughter. But then we made a bunch of dishes. Roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash with cranberries and pecans. Mashed garlic sweet potatoes. Quinoa-broccoli casserole. Cauliflower sauce. Vegetarian stuffing. Carrots. And maybe another dish or two that I am forgetting. Timing the cooking of everything so that it was all warm at once was a challenge, but we did it all without losing our heads or our cool.

And then I realized that this is why I have been resisting ever taking on hosting a meal of this magnitude: the stress I have come to associate with it. Holiday gatherings do not conjure up warm and fuzzy memories for me, for the most part; they were stressful endeavors resulting from what I now think was a quest for perfection. The table had to look just right. The house had to be a professional level of clean. The food’s presentation had to be just so. And the perfectionist in me opted out…until this year.

Second 5-Minute Friday: Dwell

What a lovely thought expressed in the reading for day – “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:8. I find myself turning more and more toward faith in times like today, with all of the terrible headlines and turmoil the world over. I choose not to live in fear, though, because what kind of life is that? I believe the option not to live in fear is one I am privileged to choose living in the U.S., and it is a privilege I do not take lightly. Especially during this time of year, when we have just celebrated Veteran’s Day and will give thanks next week, it is a time of gratitude and reflection for not just our immediate blessings, but the larger blessings that allow us to enjoy the smaller comforts.

Where I choose to dwell is in faith that everything is occurring according to a master plan; that we are all connected; that we need to respond to current events not with fear and hatred and kneejerk reactions, but with faith and love for humanity and the larger universe we all share. Dwelling in possibility, in hope, in love, and in faith is a much better place to live than in fear.

First 5-Minute Friday: Weariness

“Let us not grow weary…”

What makes us weary? I believe it is the desire and “need” to be what society wants us to be, rather than who we were meant to be at our core. I notice that I am never weary when I am living as my authentic self – and this means saying “no” when that decision seems best for me, my family, our well-being. It means creating something, whether a drawing, a repurposed home item, a sentence. It means taking care of myself physically and carving out the time I need – but often feel I don’t have – to exercise, get as much sleep as possible (always a constant battle) and, ideally, eat healthy (but still be able to eat my nightly dish of ice cream – another pleasure that keeps me from growing weary). What makes us weary is the exhaustion of having to wear the masks we feel we must – the one of the perfect mother, the perfect neighbor, the perfect spouse, the ideal coworker. What also makes us weary is the race to keep up with the Joneses – the pull to get more, do more, have more…and then make sure that “more” is bigger, better, faster, etc.  I think a lot of us would breathe a collective sigh of relief if we freed ourselves from these pressures – external for sure, but ultimately internalized. We need to acknowledge the people and responsibilities in our lives that make us weary and look at what we can do to grapple with that. We need to surround ourselves with the people and responsibilities in our lives that help recharge us so that we can face the inevitable weariness with more strength.