My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the day before Thanksgiving.
These are the moments before we’ve donned our favorite fall-colored outfits and before the table is set with best china and the house is sparkling.
On Thanksgiving-Eve, we dress in jeans and t-shirts that are bound to get messy because it is after all a messy day (especially if you cook like I do with flour dusting the kitchen like a powdering of snow on the winter ground).
Surely messy bakers make the best cookies!
We work hard, scrubbing and cleaning, but we also laugh hard in the kitchen as we roll out the cookies and fill the pies.
There was the year we forgot to bake the pre-baked pie crust for our chocolate meringue pie and just put the filling right on in there. Then, we scraped it all out, baked the pie crust like we were supposed to, and filled it back up again.
Then there’s the year we did the exact same thing all over again and laughed and laughed because did we learn anything at all the year before? Not hardly. We’re too busy baking and laughing to pay attention to small details like that.
And, inevitably we reach into the pantry for the next ingredient and find out we ran out a few weeks ago and didn’t know it, so husbands make last-minute dashes to the Food Lion for us.
On the night before Thanksgiving, it’s all about the preparation and not the presentation.
We make mistakes and we fix them. The mishaps become part of our Thanksgiving lore, just another funny story to add to years of stories.
We get covered in sugar and pie filling. We experiment with a cookie icing, find we don’t like it, and then try something else.
We’re comfortable with the process, comfortable with the “real” and comfortable with the learning. We’re in this together as a team.
Now, I love the day of Thanksgiving also. I’m all about the family gathering and board games and story-swapping and family pictures and belly laughs and traditions. I love the beauty of it, the table set, the colorful leaves, the orange of the pumpkins.
I love the pausing and the giving thanks.
But I’ve been thinking lately about how hard it is to love hard-to-love people. I’ve been worn down by hurtfulness and pettiness in various places. It’s been the kind of soul-exhausting tension that makes me want to hibernate and hide away from all human contact for a few months. I want to breathe a little easier before heading out into the big wide world of other people where I’m being too frequently trampled.
Maybe, though, maybe I need to remember that in life, we’re all on the “Eve” and not quite ready for “the day.”
Nobody is perfect yet and we’re all in this together.
This is what we have to look forward to:
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2 ESV).
In the meantime, though, before Jesus returns and we’re seeing Him face-to-face in heaven, we’re making messes in the kitchen and making last-minute runs to the grocery store for the items we’ve forgotten. It’s better to laugh at all this than despair over it.
We’re creating our own stories, our own testimonies of where we’ve come from and where God has brought us, and it’s messy, but it’s good.
Colossians 3:13 says,
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
We’re giving grace to others because we’ve been lavishly, extravagantly forgiven and we’ve been loved by God even though we don’t merit that love and haven’t earned His affection.
Of course, we can still take a little time away to catch our breath when others hurt us. We can set some healthy boundaries and speak some honest words in a loving way.
But we can also overlook some offenses and offer a little safe space where people don’t have to be perfect because we’re still in progress. This is just us reminding ourselves that we’re not home yet, but we are on our way.