Thanksgiving Prep

I love that we have a feast day called Thanksgiving. And I also love that it’s entirely American and that every where across America everyone is serving up the same basic menu on the same day. It’s just such a funny thing to think about: millions of people feeling culturally obligated to cook a turkey and serve it with all the culturally expected side dishes and pies. Pretty fantastic!

I also love making the side dishes and pies and cooking the turkey bird. Love it all, start to finish. But I have to confess that my very favorite part of it all is setting the table. I will probably set it early on, maybe even Wednesday night, so I can feast my eyes on it. I will enjoy putting every fork and spoon and goblet in exactly the right spot designated for such things. Ah, cultural expectations galore!  Tradition galore!

I love making the table look beautiful. I’ve been thinking about what tablecloth or runner I’m going to use. This year it’s a Thanksgiving runner from a few years back over a pale green tablecloth from a few years back. Sounds weird, but it looks so calm and fall and festive. And since we are having a smallish group this year (just seventeen!) I can use my granny’s crystal, which I also love. The ten children will not use Granny’s Fostoria, no. But I will bless the seven adults with it. And all the silver has been polished (went through a whole tub of polish) which makes the table sparkle like nothing else. What better time to use the family heirlooms?

The leaves will be in the table and extra chairs hijacked from the four corners of the house. The white napkins will be ironed. That’s not what I do every week. Goodness no! But for Thanksgiving they will be pressed. The candles will be lit. The flowers (I bought tulips) will be just hitting their zenith. Glorious!

The place cards will be on, the salad plates (so the jello doesn’t melt into the dressing) in position, the dessert forks above the plates, and the silly turkey salt and pepper shakers will be stationed where they will feel important.

I’ve wondered what it is that I enjoy so much about the table setting. I love the way it looks when it’s set. I love all the rules about what goes where. I love all the memories associated with the table. I love the symbolism of the table as we all gather around. We sing “We Thank Thee Our Father” every year at Thanksgiving, and that’s something my husband brought over from his family traditions.

And I love, love, love filling the table with all my people and seeing them enjoy it. Isn’t God good that He gives us such potent, powerful work to do? Work that we can do with our own hands? Work that will bless future generations? Is there a mess afterward? Oh, mercy, yes. Something epic. But that’s my cue to put on the Christmas music!

Blessings on all your prep work, and may your tables shine with God’s goodness and Grandma’s china!

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21 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Prep

  1. Thank you for the blessed encouragement! I live overseas and this was just what I needed to turn me wholeheartedly into my prep and the teaching of my little ones about their American heritage!

  2. I’ve never “fully dressed” my table but you make it sound wonderful! Our son is young and I’ve been trying to think of traditions that I’d like him to grow up knowing. I certainly think that this is something I’d like to try.

  3. Love this! I also adore setting a beautiful table, and believe in using my “pretty things” as much as possible! It is a shame to leave it all sitting in the china cabinet!

  4. Thank you Lord for sweet family to share the holidays with. Yeah!!! Thank you Nancy for sharing the joy that bubbles up in you over creating a beautiful day for your family. It is inspiring!

  5. It’s wonderful to see someone taking so much joy in what can be so stressful. It gives me hope that in 10 or 20 years I’ll be much more capable of dealing with the holidays. Of course in 10 or 20 years I might not be in the middle of a move 🙂 Also, thanks for the reminder that my napkins need ironing 😉

  6. Crystal,
    No, keep your silver out of the dishwasher. And when you wash it lovingly by hand, be sure to dry it right away and put it back in the felt-lined case or drawer where you keep it.

  7. Hi Nancy! We are home this year and I’m LOVIN’ it! Just finished up my table as well. Growing up my mother always gave us girls some creative freedom in setting the table. She’d tell us to gather up whatever beauty we could find outside. Usually we would end up with pinecones, acorns colorful leaves, clippings from evergreens and magnolias and always pulled off something really pretty (that of course also meant gold or silver spray paint was involved-my mother was well prepared for most of our brainstorms)! I thought of you a couple of days ago when I accidentally opened a Christmas box full of German Smokemen. Do you remember those from your Germany days? Much love to your family!

  8. Loved this post! Nancy, I appreciate the beauty and joy you find and make in your home and share with us.

    Emma, that poem is absolutely lovely. Thank you for sharing it.

  9. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone over here at Femina! May the Lord richly bless your day with the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    God be with you!

  10. Nancy, I savoured every word you used to describe your beautiful Thanksgiving table! This is my favorite meal of the year and I look forward to it for months. I’m up for any excuse to unapologetically kick up the table settings and ambience a notch or two….. or more!:)

    As a young bride, I used to fear all the preparations for the big annual meal until I began to prepare a smaller scale Thanksgiving meal every third Sunday of the month. It was a great culinary experience to try out all sorts of recipes and methods of cooking the bird, stuffing, etc., that by the time the next November rolled around I actually looked forward to it. I eventually made up a Holiday Recipe notebook with all our favorite family recipes and traditions.

    Now I’m trying to teach my daughters how to prepare the Thanksgiving meal. Tuesday I showed them my “Martha List”—-the menu and how to divide the meal preparations up throughout the week, etc. so that on Thursday they can enjoy some heartfelt “Mary time”.

    Speaking of carving out some “Mary time”, I love this Thanksgiving poem authored over a century ago by my favorite Victorian Christian author, Margaret Sangster.

    “ Counting up our mercies and our every-day reasons for gratitude, looking at the hundred little things
    and large things, gentle words, loving smiles, flowers-sent to cheer us, children to greet us, old friends
    to advise and middle-aged friends to uphold us, good books to read, dear songs to sing, meetings in
    gladness, even parting in hope for the better life, we do not know where to end the list. The only thing
    to do is to live always in an atmosphere sweet and vital with thanksgiving. “Praise God, from whom
    all blessings flow!” ~ MARGARET E. SANGSTER

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  11. Thank you Nancy, I felt a warning at the thought of dishwashing it. I’m so glad I asked. I do so love the beauty of silver on the table, it does make the table sparkle.
    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  12. Just passing by to say that I am thankful for the Femina Team, may His grace overflow as you minister to many of us.

    You are a gift to the body of Christ and I give thanks to our Father in Heaven for each one of you.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. I’m at my mom’s, and the biggest delight of my week was helping her figure out where to seat one more and one more and one more as the guest list grew from 15ish to 20. By the time we were finished, we had used every chair scrounged from every corner of the house. One of the tables was crammed up against a little nook between two pieces of furniture, and Petey (the littlest guest) had to climb in before anybody could sit down. With three sets of flatware, tablecloths as mismatched as the chairs, and disposable plates supplied by a cousin, we weren’t so formal as the Wilsons, but it works for my family of country mice!

  14. Our kids are deathly allergic to most traditional Thanksgiving food, so this year we let each one pick one food they are most thankful for. Our feast included tacos, cotton candy, strawberry jello pie, and sloppy joes! The table was nicely set and we all had a blast. 🙂

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