Thanksgiving: The Expectation vs. The Reality

Thanksgiving Expectations vs Reality

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and though it has always been one of my favorite days of the year, I know I tend to let my expectations make it a tad more stressful than it needs to be. I love to see Thanksgiving on TV…beautiful families all dressed up, a gorgeous table, amazing food, no fighting…and then my reality starts to blur a bit around the edges. “We can make that happen,” I think. And then the day comes and, well…my life is clearly not TV ready. My expectations versus my reality seem to get in the way of the dreamy day I plan in my head.

Expectation #1: My house will be Thanksgiving picture perfect.

Reality #1: No, it won’t. I have three children. One is a toddling 15 month old. It will be awesome if my house is in one piece. My darling hand painted pumpkins? That baby chucked those into the woods weeks ago.

Expectation #2: My family will get all dressed up and look gorgeous in my perfectly staged Thanksgiving photos.

Reality #2: No, they won’t. The almost-teenager will wear Under Armour sweats because that’s all that exists in his universe. The sweet girl will wear a dress because she loves dresses. Especially her blue one. The baby may or may not be naked. I’ll forget to take photos.

Expectation #3: All of the food will be ready at the same time and we’ll eat at noon.

Reality #3: Fat chance. One casserole will be done at 1:00. Another at 2:00. Who knows when the turkey will be done. I guess whenever it’s good and ready. We’ll probably eat around 4:00.

Expectation #4: It’s one big happy family gathering. No one will be rude or get upset at one another. Everyone will be on his or her best behavior.

Reality #4: No. Just no. See, we’re doing something very different this year. For the past couple of years, my little family has run away to the mountains for Thanksgiving. Two years ago it was just the four of us. It snowed. It was lovely. Last year there were five of us. It snowed. It was lovely. There were hot tubs and wine and food and a fire. This year, we decided we didn’t want a lovely, quiet, snowy Thanksgiving. Instead, we invited ALL of our family to our house. At the same time. My parents and brother. My mother in law and her…boyfriend? Is that the word? My father in law and his wife. You see where this is going? I can’t imagine anything going wrong with this crew…

Expectation #5: Everyone will sit down at one large lovely table, hold hands and say the blessing, and eat in peace while candles flicker and everything is beautiful.

Reality #5: We don’t have a table large enough for all of us, but even if we did, everyone wouldn’t sit down together. The lovely table? I’m pretty sure I know where the good china is, but I have absolutely no clue where the crystal is. Oops. We’ll be eating off of Chinette plates, thank you very much. I’m pretty sure plastic cutlery and red solo cups will also be involved. There won’t be candles because the baby would either catch himself on fire or burn the house down. I imagine the men will end up eating in the living room while watching football. The kids will eat where ever they find a spot. I will eat standing up because that’s what I do.

Having high expectations for any holiday where family gathers is really just setting myself up for failure and disappointment. Pretending my life will look like the incredibly sweet Publix commercial is unfair to me and to my family. It’s hard, though, not to want everything to be perfect. I like things to be pretty and organized. I like peace and quiet. I like perfection. But this Thanksgiving won’t be perfect. It won’t be organized or quiet. But even though it won’t live up to television perfection, it will be our kind of perfection. Our family, under one roof, enjoying a meal together. That in itself is pretty amazing, so I’m going to try to limit my expectations and just be ok with my reality. At least for tomorrow.

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Jennifer Fox

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