Turkey time is nearly upon us here in the US, and while we’re dusting off those heirloom platters and polishing the ol’ gratitude attitude, let’s chat about a little Thanksgiving trimmer that’s not about cutting calories – it’s about slicing through burdensome expectations that our minds create or accept as gospel.

Now, don’t get your knickers in a twist as I share the dangers of expectations. I’m not here to be the Grinch of Thanksgiving. I just want to share a little insight on how to make this holiday less hectic and stressful. Besides, in December’s article, I promise to bring you joyful lights and guides on how to expect the best in 2024 (spoiler alert: expectations can be the secret sauce to a fantastic year!). But for now, let’s gobble up a different thought.

Picture this:

You’re all geared up for that perfect Thanksgiving moment. The table is a Pinterest dream, the turkey’s so plump it’d win a beauty pageant, and you’re ready for Norman Rockwell to pop in and paint the scene. But then, Aunt Edna’s yams turn into a charred homage to Mount Vesuvius, Uncle Bob channels his inner monologue about politics (cue collective eye roll), and the dog has decided the turkey is his adventure buddy. Your picture-perfect day? It’s getting a little sketchy now.

So what do you do?

This makes me think of a  friend who wanted his holiday to be so picture-perfect that he threw a pre-Halloween party dress rehearsal with all of the spooky boos and screams. He wanted to prepare his one-year-old for the occasion so that the pictures of the event would be Norman Rockwellesque. He thought he was adding value, training his little one for the big leagues of trick-or-treating. As the day of Halloween rolled around, he was ready for his chase of the perfect shot that would make Ken Burns jealous. The pursuit of the picture-perfect masked the simple joys – the giggles, the wobbly steps in a costume too large, the clapping of tiny hands trying to catch the floating autumn leaves while attempting to eat the entire bag of candy before going to bed.

It’s sad when we realize that sometimes, in the orchestration of our lives, we misplace the music. And as Thanksgiving rolls in, it’s our chance to tune back into that melody.

So here’s a little holiday help:

Let’s trade expectations for experiences.

When you’re passing the homemade ravioli (OK, my mom is 100% genuine Italian – we don’t eat the holiday mascot on Thanksgiving. Don’t judge. 😉), this year, I encourage you to pass on the pressure to curate flawless memories. Sure, the turkey might do an impromptu backflip off the platter, or you might discover that little Timmy is a cranberry sauce artist – specializing in abstract wall art. But that’s the stuffing, folks – the real, the messy, the unplanned delights.

Give thanks for the moments as they are, not as you hoped they’d be.

Whether your pie comes out picture-perfect or looks like it had a run-in with an evil Halloween jack-o-lantern, it’s all about the flavor of the moment, not the form. And remember, sometimes the best memories are those that nobody thought to snap a photo of because we were all too busy living them.

This Thanksgiving, let’s toast to the topsy-turvy tablescapes, the burnt buns (the bread kind, of course), and the laughter that bubbles up when things go off-script…to finding the heart, not just the art in our gatherings… to a holiday rich with moments full and real… that are truly picture-worthy, not because of how it looks, but because of how it feels – unexpected, unscripted, and unconditionally ours.

Wishing you a day of unexpected joys and perfect imperfections.

Stay thankful and don’t let those expectations gobble up your day.

Happy Thanksgiving!! 

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