Giving Thanks for Simple Pleasures Powerfully Transforms Your Holiday Into Something Sophisticated & Satisfying

Karen Patten

Spoiler Alert: Our family holiday traditions used to feel like a crushing weight on my back. There was  Thanksgiving dinner planning, preparation, shopping, and more. I wanted a stress free, relaxing, holiday. After talking with friends, I discovered we all wanted to spend our holidays giving thanks for simple pleasures that we can often take for granted. But the holidays seem to be so busy that we aren’t always able to focus on what we know is important. So I re-worked our holiday family traditions and have come up with tips for a stress free Thanksgiving. Cheers to recognizing the ordinary miracles and giving thanks for those simple pleasures that we have every day!

I want stress free and relaxing holidays for me and my family. I want to spend time giving thanks for simple pleasures that can be taken for granted. But the holidays are busy, stressful, and overwhelming. So I re-worked our traditions and came up with tips for a stress free Thanksgiving. Cheers to recognizing the ordinary miracles and giving thanks for those simple pleasures that we have every day! #simplepleasures #givethanks #gratitude www.themidlifemamas.com

Ever wondered if a stress free holiday is actually possible? A holiday, like Thanksgiving, where you would be able to experience truly giving thanks for simple pleasures that we all have in our lives?

Anticipation. Anticipation is one of the simplest pleasures that we have in life. We look forward to something that we know we will enjoy. Isn’t this the reason we want to teach our children patience? To avoid the trappings of instant gratification? Of course – without anticipation of family events and traditions, life would be lacking.

Other times, the weight of carrying out traditions makes you want to lock your bedroom door while aiming to beat the world record for the longest Netflix binge. Or in a cozy closet with chocolate and wine? Maybe that’s just me.

But how would you feel if you could enjoy sleeping in a little, reading the paper for a few minutes with your first cup of coffee, and not worrying about everybody’s else’s happiness this Thanksgiving?

I Was Missing Quiet Moments of Gratitude for Simple Pleasures

I’ve felt the crush of family tradition that makes me want to skip the holidays all together curled up in the fetal position in my warm comfy bed. With a heating pad on my feet. (Try it – I promise…it really IS all that.)

What’s the crush feel like?

The crush feels like spending hours searching Pinterest for the most delicious recipes, the prettiest decorations, and the most magazine-worthy table settings in all that spare time you have while you’re on the toilet.

The crush feels like being responsible for everyone else’s happiness every second of the “big” day. One tiny misstep will have your step-mother wondering along with “all the girls” why holiday hosting seems to be such a challenge for you while she always “just did it.” Perfectly.

The crush feels like spending days on your hands and knees scrubbing nooks and crannies you never knew you had so that Uncle Alfie might not notice something he shouldn’t. It feels like it doesn’t matter that you and your family, friends, and pets actually live in this home year round. Just get it clean. Pretend nobody really lives here and everything will be fine.

The crush feels like spending endless hours looking for stuff. Stuff to decorate with. Stuff to serve meals and snacks on. Stuff to sit on…Stuff, stuff, stuff.

Maybe you dream of a holiday that’s more focused on giving thanks and showing our gratitude for the simple pleasures that we experience every day?

A gratitude filled holiday to soak up spending time with your family and recharging your personal batteries with less stress and more giving thanks for simple pleasures? Maybe you’ve wondered if a stress free holiday for you is even possible?

I did.

If you’re left feeling like Cindy Lou Who wondering why some Grinchy traditions have stolen your joyous tree of a holiday, then you need a change. Pronto!

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The Meal Was Our Thanksgiving Tradition

When I was a child our Thanksgiving tradition was the meal. It was exactly the same every year. (Well, there was that one year when I was four and drank a bottle of my cousin’s cologne. That was different. But the meal stayed the same.)

Our traditional meal is turkey, stuffing, creamed onions, mashed rutabagas, sweet potatoes, cranberries (three varieties), pumpkin pie and mince pie with hard sauce.

Every.

Single.

Year.

Our other “tradition” (if you can call it one) that I didn’t fully appreciate until I was much older was that my mother cooked, baked, and waited on people hand and foot all day and never joined any of us.

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Do Your Holidays Provide Moments of Thanks for Simple Pleasures?

How much do I not want to do any of that? Let me count the ways: I’d rather spend a weekend trapped in a moldy drafty cabin during a snowstorm with wolves howling outside my door and no firewood; I’d rather give up my Amazon Prime Membership; I’d rather give up lattes and wine. So, no. I don’t want to spend my holidays waiting on everyone hand and foot.
 
My mother has passed, I have no siblings, and my father burns toast and Campbell’s soup. So now the holiday planning falls on me. I’m trying to make things a little more special for all of us – without making my week unbearable.
 
Because, let’s face it, when mama’s on edge – everybody’s on edge.

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Being Creative is One Of My Simple Pleasures

 I want stress free and relaxing holidays for me and my family. I want to spend time giving thanks for simple pleasures that can be taken for granted. But the holidays are busy, stressful, and overwhelming. So I re-worked our traditions and came up with tips for a stress free Thanksgiving. Cheers to recognizing the ordinary miracles and giving thanks for those simple pleasures that we have every day! #simplepleasures #givethanks #gratitude www.themidlifemamas.com

In my heart, I’m a cook; I looooove to cook. It’s one of my favorite ways to be creative. I love looking on Pinterest for new holiday recipes. So cooking the same meal is a boring old chore.

On the other hand, next to my mother, I’m certain there’s nothing on earth my father loves more than this meal. He eats leftovers for as long as he can stretch them out. He’d love to be able to stretch them until Christmas when….wait for it. He gets the same meal. Again. So if we would let him, he would exist on this same meal for over a month every year.

All this made me bored with “the meal” from the perspective of an artistic and curious cook. I always want to try new things and switch it up a bit. At various times, I’ve added in new recipes: cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, cheesecake, brussels sprouts, butternut squash soup, corn pudding – you name it. But nothing new has really stuck.

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I was certain even the mention of changing “the meal” would cause some dangerous health event that could endanger my elderly father’s life. So I was reluctant and I started slowly. Instead of coming to our house, I suggested that we all rent a house at the beach for the week of Thanksgiving.

So I moved one baby step away from what we’ve done for ten years. My thinking was that I’d be willing to put all of the work into the one meal, and maybe the rest of the week would be laid back since we were at the beach.

The suggestion was well received and a new tradition was born!! Each Thanksgiving, we now head to our favorite beach, rent the same amazing house and enjoy the tranquility and beautiful simple pleasures of an amazing space.

The reason that this baby step worked so well was because the beach is a naturally relaxing place for us. And one of our favorite activities at the beach this time of year is the amazing bird watching. So it was a perfect first step toward a joyful holiday for me.

Oooops! I Did It Again.

Once the physical move was well received, I had to figure out how I was going to make “the meal.” Away from my kitchen and the things that I need… And then I started to think…

Do I really have to spend all this time on the meal in a different kitchen? So – I ordered a prepared dinner from an upscale source and had it delivered right to the door. Even though it was upscale, (read: expensive) it. was. not. good.

So the next year, I adapted. Several recipes I make weeks in advance and freeze. Some desserts I purchase instead of bake. I still do a turkey, but the rest is basically done already.

So over time I’ve successfully transferred away from my parents’ traditional meal which was stressful for me and my family. That allowed me to put the emphasis on giving thanks for simple pleasures, creating special traditions and memories with my family, and just generally enjoying my holiday!

You Do You – Whatever That Is

So, in fact, my new “tradition” is to tweek the old traditions if I think it makes sense for my family. My new traditions may not work for you – but I really encourage you to find out what does.

One thing I had was support from friends and others to help make these changes. One of my favorite resources for change is a terrific book called Take the Chaos Out of Christmas. Even though it says Christmas, the wisdom applies to any holiday that can make you beg to wait in line for a Brazilian bikini wax.

And if you want a great read to go with your latte (or wine…who am I to judge?), this is a wonderful list that will have you feeling bold enough to jump out of an airplane – 10 Books That Will Make You The Best Version Of Yourself

Sometimes the old needs a little boost to make things interesting! It doesn’t mean it’s no longer a tradition, it just adds a twist to the story of the tradition and carries it into the next generation.

 

2 Comments

  1. […] Related Post You Might Like: Is It Still a Thanksgiving Tradition If I Change It? […]



  2. […] Related Story You May Also Like: Changing a Tradition Can Make You Enjoy a Stress Free Holiday […]



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Hi, I’m Karen, the Atlanta mama, writer, and creator at Intentional Family Life. I’m a passionate advocate for intentional living so that you can experience all that you deserve for yourself and your family. Here, I inspire moms to chose what matters most and then to only do the things that move them closer to what matters most. Read More About Karen…

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