by Christina Rose
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed
you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15 NIV)
When Jesus and his disciplines were traveling through a village, they were invited to the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha was obsessed with preparations for making the perfect meal, her sister Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to him. Martha became vexed and said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40 NIV).
Jesus turned to her. “Martha, Martha,” He answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”(Luke 10:41-42 NIV).
Sometimes we get so caught up in the preparation that we forget its purpose. We make elaborate lists and get so lost in the details that we can’t enjoy what the ceremony is all about. One can only imagine what Thanksgiving would have been like at the home of Mary and Martha. Mary would be welcoming the guests and devoting her attention to conversing with them, while Martha would be stressing out in the kitchen sweating over the turkey, resentful that no one understood how important it was to have the perfect meal.
My mother’s name was Martha, and she lived up to what it represented. Her father died when she was young, and her mother went to work full-time. As a child, my mother’s holidays were often spent with relatives or in boarding schools. She dreamed of one day having the perfect home and family to make up for all the years she felt alone on the holidays. As a result, when my grandmother arrived two days before Thanksgiving, we were not allowed in the kitchen while she and my mother created an elaborate feast. On Thanksgiving Day, we were served the perfect holiday dinner on a beautifully decorated table.
As a young wife and mother, I strived to serve the same perfect holiday dinners my mother used to make, but soon realized the impossibility of this with babies and toddlers underfoot. One year my husband’s relatives were visiting, and my toddler proudly announced, “My mom makes the best mashed potatoes. She makes them out of a box!”
Over the years, I continued to strive for holiday perfection, trying gourmet recipes and decorating ideas, mistakenly thinking that all my efforts would make everyone happy. One year I counted six hours in the kitchen with preparation while everyone was laughing in the next room, watching movies, and playing games. While I know everyone appreciated my efforts, the following Thanksgiving, we ordered “The Box”.
“The Box” contains a precooked Thanksgiving dinner that merely needs to be heated up. My kids opened “The Box” excitedly as they pulled out the pie, the turkey and the rest of the trimmings and helped me prepare them. We spent time playing games while the dinner heated up in the oven. They felt so proud of the dinner as if they had cooked it all themselves. I invited my elderly neighbor who lived alone, and we spent time with her. Friends from down the street stopped in and I was able to relax and enjoy their company. That Thanksgiving, as we sat around the table, my daughter announced, “This is the best Thanksgiving we’ve ever had.” I had learned how to be a “Mary”.
Society and tradition may call us to standards of perfection that we find impossible to attain, but we must keep our eyes on what matters most. While Thanksgiving is a time of feasting and celebration, most importantly it is a time of giving thanks to our Savior for the opportunity to spend time with those we love.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership. She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino- loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.
Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.
Join the conversation: What do you do to keep Thanksgiving from being overwhelming?