The Best Choice for Thanksgiving
What is your greatest Thanksgiving challenge?
For my family it’s choosing where to eat—not with which relatives,
but which restaurants.
The question came up one Thanksgiving when my kids were very
young, my husband was on the road, and all other family and
friends were engaged elsewhere. How was I supposed to serve up a
feast of plenty when help was so scarce? And since my holiday
“guests” were fussy eaters who didn’t even like turkey and
dressing, why even bother?
Our dilemma drove us out the door and on the road in search of a
suitable Thanksgiving spread. Instead of “over the river and
through the woods,” we found ourselves across town at a popular
That day my family enjoyed all they could eat of everything they
chose to eat. One child had a plate piled high with nothing but
cantaloupe; another went back for multiple servings of mac and
cheese. And I had the satisfaction of watching my children clean
their plates, knowing that I would have no plates to clean later!
And so began our unconventional custom of enjoying a traditional,
home-style meal . . . served anywhere but home. Every fall the
adventure begins again, ending with some of our favorite holiday
memories. The Cracker Barrel country store. IHOP pancake syrup
wars. They may not be everyone’s notion of the perfect
Thanksgiving, but they suit us perfectly.
Our tradition has also taught us this important truth: if
gratitude isn’t the most important item on our Thanksgiving
buffet, we can pick the best restaurant—and still miss the best
part of the holiday. Sometimes my greatest holiday struggle is not
with Thanksgiving plans, but thanksgiving practice.
It’s tempting to get distracted by all the holiday
preparations. (Even as I was writing this, I received an
interesting article from my favorite online food magazine called
The Fifty States of Thanksgiving. According to the author, “it''s
never too soon to start planning your turkey day feast. This year,
take your taste buds on a cross-country trek and fill your plate
with regional favorites.” How do you narrow down a menu from that
I don’t know about you, but I get sidetracked by other things
as well. I focus on my to-dos and overlook all God has done. I
concentrate on current needs and ignore God’s past provision. I
get complacent in my plenty and frustrated by my wants.
But what would life look like instead if I spent as much time
counting blessings as I do considering menus? After all, God
intended thanksgiving as a habit, not a holiday. Giving thanks
wasn’t created for an annual feast—it is meant to be our daily
fare (I Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:20).
Our most important Thanksgiving decision is not what (or
where) we eat the day of—but what we fill up on all year long.
When we celebrate thanksgiving as a way of life, we enjoy “all we
can eat” of God’s richest blessings.
Then I will praise You and thank You at the great gathering.
Pam Watts is an author and blogger at