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.

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7 thoughts on “Third 5-Minute Friday: Table

  1. Martha G. Brady says:

    great insight! perfectionism kills hospitality doesn’t it phdpes? it’s also hard on relationships as well! glad you are learning the truth that people prefer a relaxed hostess over a perfect meal and table anyday! my best t’givings have been spent with friends and family where each brings part of the meal and we enjoy each other and good food too:)

  2. Jenninablog says:

    What a spread you had!!! Just remember that the sacrifice of your time and energy was a blessing to others. Most of the time we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and most people who gather at our table are just appreciative of us for who we are, beyond the fancy table – From your #fmf partner in writing

  3. kamryn2015 says:

    Perfectionism kills so many potential joyous occasions. It has taken me quite a few years to come to this realization and I am still working to let go of these unrealistic and unnecessary standards we set for ourselves. Working to let go and undo what has been ingrain into my person so I can be free of the stress and experience the joy. Maybe you should go out to dinner next year:)

  4. spurredgirl says:

    For me, the stress is in the cooking for a large group. I suffer from performance anxiety and a 19th-century Mary Jane Wilks complex — always apologizing for that my chicken is too tough or the vegetables too soggy or the cake too dry. I would never take on a turkey. I think I might pass out from anxiety. All hail to my sister-in-law, who creates the golden magic year after year!

    • Kirstin says:

      Where does this come from? I am starting to dig at my anti-holiday-gatherings roots, and I am NOT liking what I am finding. For me, it means coming to terms with my perfectionism and wrestling it to the ground, but that process is so much more complicated than it sounds.

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