In anticipation of the big day, I have put together a list to help you determine if your Thanksgiving was, in fact, an epic fail.
Here are a few signs to consider Thanksgiving day:
1.) When sharing what they are thankful for, your first guest responds “that Thanksgiving rotates to a new house next year.”
2.) Your mother-in-law questions why your “homemade” pumpkin pie has a Costco imprint across the top.
3.) Despite dieting all year, you’re still asked to play linebacker in the annual family football game.
4.) When conversation gets slow around the table, you nervously share your annual income and who you voted for in the 2016 election.
5.) Several relatives tentatively decline your Christmas invitation pending ancestry results.
6.) When guests ask how they can help after the meal, your husband accidentally responds, “Why start now?”
7.) Grandpa grabs the Gas-X before agreeing to a game of Twister with the kids.
8.) After replacing the batteries on the meat thermometer, you decide “done” is a relative term.
9.) You receive multiple copies of the book Parenting with Love and Logic as hostess gifts.
10.) The Turkey Trot of 2019 isn’t a family 5K but rather a reminder of how fast people exited your house after the meal ended.
All kidding aside, I hope you are preparing for a wonderful Thanksgiving. There are always the family “quirks” to work through, but the whole concept of taking a day to be truly thankful for the blessings in our lives—well, that’s something worth celebrating.
We also know that, sometimes, with all the family gatherings, it takes an extra dose of patience and a reminder on how to do holidays well.
It seems like Jesus totally understood some of the frustrations of big feasts when you read his instructions in Luke 14:8–11:
“If you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t always head for the best seat. For if someone more respected than you shows up,the host will bring him over to where you are sitting and say, ‘Let this man sit here instead.’ And you, embarrassed, will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! “Do this instead—start at the foot; and when your host sees you he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place than this for you!’ Thus you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For everyone who tries to honor himself shall be humbled; and he who humbles himself shall be honored.”
In Jesus’ day, where you sat at the banquet table was important. The closer you were to the host, the more you were viewed as important and high on the social ladder. You can imagine there must have been a rush for the head of the table every time seating began at the big events.
Jesus cautions us to avoid the need to sit at the head of the table, but rather to start at the foot, where there’s room to move up. He reminds us that looking for success and value in self-promotion is shortsighted and, well, a touch humiliating when you get asked to scooch down to the end of the table.
God is not impressed when we “appear” important or have the seat of honor because he cares about our hearts, not our outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7). He tells us that those who are meek, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers are the blessed (Matthew 5).
I can think of no better time for us to consider how we take a lesser seat at the proverbial table. Where can we choose humility instead of demanding respect this week? How can we model for our kids putting others’ needs before our own and serving people well, even when it comes at the expense of our own comfort?
Remember: there’s a place at the table for everyone—even your aunt who insists on being right at the cost of being polite. Jesus made room at the table for everyone and extended grace as he did so. We can too.
Let’s start with practicing humility and making a concerted effort not to come in with expectations of being at the proverbial head of the table. After all, as we head into Christmas, you don’t have to look further than Jesus’ birth in a stable to see how God values humility over entitlement and the appearances of success.
We’re hoping your Thanksgiving is not an epic fail. But, if it is, make sure it’s marked with humility and grace!