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Thanksgiving Fails and Saves

Our family has experienced failure and misfortune, less than most families; most of it trivial in comparison to what many families endure.  Often, we reflect on those dramatic moments and realize the good that came out of the incident.  So I will share with you some of my Thanksgiving fails and the saves that ensued.

The Fail: My worst Thanksgiving was the November after we had moved five hours from home before we had kids.  We hadn’t really established friends close enough to be invited to dinner, so we ate alone and pined for family.  I don’t think we even had turkey; it just wasn’t worth it.

The Save: We spent the day reminiscing about Thanksgivings past and vowed we would, henceforth, invite anyone we knew who would be alone on this holiday (a tradition still going on today as I shared in “Table Traditions“).  We have shared our meal with people all over the world, of many races, cultures, political agendas, and religious beliefs.  The conversations are lively, and often they share food that we have never sampled, a great adventure.

The Fail: The year we moved into a new home, even further from home with a one-year-old, only weeks before Thanksgiving.  We dined at a local restaurant with an Indian family who was also new to the community.  Audrey was teething, cried through the entire meal, and had to be walked just to keep her calm enough for anyone in the restaurant to eat.

The Save: We made close friends who joined us for every subsequent Thanksgiving while we lived in the area.  Additionally, the owner of the restaurant, who was extremely gracious under the circumstances, never forgot us (I don’t know how he could have).  Each time we returned, he greeted us by name, and shared stories of his family with us.

The Fail: One year we decided to fly to Texas for Thanksgiving, with our two-year-old, to visit my older brother.  We arrived at a very crowded airport on the morning of Thanksgiving, just to learn that we had been bumped to a later flight.  We took turns running Audrey through the airport until both of us were ready to drop.  We hadn’t brought much for her to eat and, at the time, there wasn’t much kid friendly fare to be purchased.

The Save: We were bumped to first class with a full turkey dinner.  Audrey fell asleep as soon as the plane took off.  My family had postponed the meal until early evening, so we experienced the feast twice that day with a nice walk and a lovely visit in between.

The Fail: One year I planned dinner for twenty, and my dear sister offered to prepare a substantial portion of the meal, because I would be working right up until the day before.  As I was sliding the turkey into the oven, Thanksgiving morning, she called to apologize.  One of their daughters needed their assistance and they would not be coming.  An hour later, another guest phoned to say that they were too sick to come.  In a total panic, I managed to throw together variations of the sides my missing guests were to provide, but we were down to about nine with more leftovers than food eaten.

The Save: That evening, my sister and brother-in-law surprised us on their way home and shared leftover turkey with us.  We packaged up some of everything for them, and weren’t forced to eat the same food over and over again for the next week and a half.

The Fail: The year my niece started practicing vegetarianism, she pouted through the entire meal because we had not been thoughtful enough to accommodate her needs.  I felt so guilty watching her eat her buttered mashed potatoes and a roll.

The Save: When my own daughter started her vegetarian experience, I was prepared.  Not only was there plenty of veg-friendly options on Thanksgiving, but I offered to bring meatless dishes to all the carry-ins we attended.

The Fail: Although I typically host Thanksgiving and my parents typically fly to Texas, one year my brother decided to fly home.  Mom thought it would be best if she hosted the meal and I was assigned the veggies and dip, the pies, and another side dish.  Mom wanted us all at one table so she filled the living room with tables, end-to-end, and chairs so close together it was barely possible to move the fork to your mouth.  Because other family members had decided to bring the same foods I was assigned, I took all my dishes home full of the same food I brought.  I was hurt, and my girls voiced their discomfort with the setting on the way home.

The Save: Spitefully, I announced that I would not be hosting the following Thanksgiving.  We packed our bags and drove seven hours to spend Thanksgiving with far-away friends.  The day was lovely, and I quickly realized that my family had done me a favor; I forgave them.  My girls gave me the ultimate compliment on our way home: “Mom, that was fun, but Thanksgiving at our house is always the best.”

We are so blessed to have plenty to eat and people with whom to share our good fortune.  I wish you a Thanksgiving that is free of trials and tribulations.  I encourage you to reflect on your past Thanksgiving fails and what good may have resulted from them.  I’d love to hear your Thanksgiving stories, please share in the comments below 🙂

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