How We Simplified Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in America is the official start to our holiday season. It is based off the First Thanksgiving between the Indians and Pilgrims in colonial America. They gathered at one table, gave thanks for their many blessings, and then shared in a bountiful feast.

Wild kids, wild dogs and a potty training toddler (failing)

.Do you know what the key words are in that above sentence? Gathering at one table and they shared in a bountiful feast.

Today, Thanksgiving is still a time of gathering with friends and family to give thanks for our many blessings, but a lot of times, it's at more than one table in more than one location.

I am so thankful that I have an abundance of family and friends that live close in the valley, but sometimes it can make things really difficult.

Like a lot of people, my husband and I come from divorced families. One holiday invitation can easily jump to four. The first few years being married, it was fine. We were traveling all over town and spent most of the day in the car. But we got to see everyone. We made it work. Now that we have kids of our own, traveling all around town is just not as easy as it once was. Leaving one place for another is not only hard on us and the kids, but hard on the host that we are leaving. “Oh, stay for dessert!” “I made so much food!” “You’ve only been here for an hour!” While all of these declarations are true, we just can’t do it all!

Thanksgiving became a rush around Phoenix hitting all the families and we began to miss the true meaning of the holiday: Giving thanks and spending time with our loved ones. We can’t do that if we are spending two to three hours in the car trying to get everywhere all in one day.

Finally, my husband and I put our feet down. We decided to simplify Thanksgiving. This is how we cut out the stress and got back to celebrating with loved ones, and not on the road:

1. Choose one. We rotate every year and that has brought happiness to all sides of the family, including this mama. We also celebrate on different days to accommodate everyone.

2. Bring a side. If you are hosting Thanksgiving, commit to one or two items. Don’t commit to making the whole Thanksgiving dinner. That can become costly and you are spending most of your time in the kitchen. Ask friends and family who are coming to each bring a side. Tip: have them bring it in disposable pans if possible, that saves time on the washing for you, and them.

3. Disposable is the way to go. For most families, gone are the days of fine china and sterling silverware. Many stores offer disposable plates, cups and silverware that look just as good, if not better than the china you already have. Best thing? When you're done, it goes straight into the trash. This saves on washing and drying, and you can spend more time with your guests.

4. Order in. Everyone enjoys a homemade meal for Thanksgiving (myself included). But sometimes it’s just not in the cards. Many stores or restaurants (like Mimi’s Café) now have pre-made meals. You can pick it up and all you need to do is heat in the oven.

5. Set up the day or night before. If you are doing Thanksgiving at your home, try and do as much as you can the day/night before, so Thanksgiving can be just spent with family or cooking your main course. We try to cram too much into Thanksgiving Day, and we end up missing out because we are buried in the kitchen. Also, if you can, save the cleaning for the next day!

Finally, enjoy your time. We spend so much time preparing for the day that when it comes, it is such a blur and sometimes we miss it. Sit down, eat the pie and have the coffee with your family. The dishes will still be there tomorrow, but your guests won’t be. Enjoy these treasured moments for they come and go fast. Before we know it, our kids will be grown and out with their own families, and we will look back on these holidays and wish we had more time.

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