Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
I believe that most everyone in America Ė perhaps in the world Ė has been going through a hard time lately. We can easily get bogged down in the troubles that surround us. The economy attempts to make small rebounds, only to collapse again. The housing market simply cannot seem to rally itself. Unemployment rates are the highest we have seen in decades. It isnít bad enough that we enter the winter season with the regular concerns of colds and flu, but this year we must also deal with the swine flu and concerns over whether or not to be vaccinated. It is very easy to lose sight of all for which we should be thankful in the midst of these troubles.
Thanksgiving is upon us and we are supposed to give thanks for all of our blessings. I am sure that some feel as if they have no blessings for which to give thanks. We have all been there at some time in our lives. Thanksgiving is the gateway to the holiday season and some of us are stressing about how to deal with our children and the holidays on a very tight budget. It is a recipe for stress, no matter how you look at it.
There is, however, a solution. It isnít easy and some will simply think that it is phooey. (Yes, I said phooey.) The solution consists of 1) maintaining a positive outlook and 2) focusing on simplicity.
I feel the money crunch like everyone else. I worry about the mortgage, the utility bills, and how to pay for a holiday dinner. But I am determined not to lose focus of the meaning of the holiday of Thanksgiving. I have so much for which to be thankful!
I have a job. It is a state job and in my state we have been forced to consider furloughs in order to maintain our budgets. I have been fortunate that my job has not been required to take a furlough.
I have two wonderful daughters who are growing into womanhood in a very successful manner.
My mother lives close by and is in good health. My sister lives close by and her family is in good health.
I have a home that is sheltering and safe. It may not be the Ritz-Carlton, but it is safe and sound and warm and dry.
I have wonderful friends.
My list could go on; however, the point is only to set you on the path to beginning your own list of blessings.
As for simplicity, there are many of us who have no need for a full-size turkey this Thanksgiving. A roasting hen will work just as well. Sometimes a pumpkin pie from the bakery is actually cheaper than purchasing all the ingredients to make it yourself. If you are like our family, there is always too much food, so streamline the process and focus on the favorites. Green beans almondine may look and sound scrumptious, but if your children will eat regular green beans with less fuss, then make them instead! Bring your children into the kitchen to help. Give them age appropriate tasks and have a little fun sharing in the preparation of the dinner. Your children will be proud of their efforts when you sit down to dinner and share what you have accomplished.
Allow them to help you decorate and set the table. Pine cones and brightly colored leaves in a plain glass bowl can make a beautiful centerpiece. Construction paper rings of fall colors make wonderful napkin rings. They can even cut out pilgrim hats and Indian headdresses to use for name placards at the table.
Before dinner, take a moment to go around the table and have each person name one thing for which they are thankful. If your children play an instrument in the school band or orchestra, ask them to play a few selections after dinner for everyoneís enjoyment. Talk during dinner. So very often we forget that one of the best reasons for having a meal with family is to catch up on each otherís lives. Most of all, donít rush through Thanksgiving dinner. You have the advantage of a captive audience, make good use of it.
I love scanning the magazines like Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living to view the beautiful table settings and the colorful holiday decorations. The truth is that I will probably never have such trappings of life. But I have something better. I have a family that I love dearly and who loves me in return. This I will celebrate with every breath!
I hope that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you are able to increase your enjoyment of the holiday through positive, simple plans.