Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What I did Right Last Christmas (part 1)

Last Thanksgiving good friends bravely invited all three generations of our family to the north woods. Our hostess was incredibly organized. Over a month before we came she sent me a copy of her menu for every meal during the time we would be there so I could choose some things to bring to fit her plan. I was amazed at that amount of organization.

I was also motivated.

When we came home I started scouring my cookbooks for meals I could freeze to make ahead for Christmas. My slow cooker cookbook was great for this. So I made huge quantities of food, most of which I fed to my freezer.

Then about 5 days before Christmas I sat down and took stock of what I had in the freezer and came up with a 12 day menu from then through New Year’s that would cover from that day until the last guest left. (Do you also find it ironic that the very last meal, after all that planning, was “frozen pizza”.)

It took me two hours to organize every meal. (They didn’t all come from the freezer, but there was enough of that and easy meals to make time for me to enjoy my then 7 month old granddaughter.) This included meals of an unknown quantity of people (anywhere from four to nine on a regular basis) plus 15 on Christmas at our house.

Having so much food on hand and a complete menu enabled me to go grocery shopping and get everything I would need for a week and also make up a list for shopping the next week of things I didn’t want sitting around too long before we ate them.

I’m sure Karen would have planned her menu and then cooked for her freezer. But we can’t all be super organized. This was an amazing step ahead for me.

I'm hoping to repeat this feat this Christmas with even more people around--my parents will be here, we'll include our future daughter-in-law in many meals, I hope her family can come at least once, and a new grandchild (you knew I'd have to mention him!) 

I also hope that my success will inspire you to do all you can so you can truly enjoy mealtimes with your family this Christmas, and everyday.

In two weeks I'll post the menu and my comments on how it went. I'd love to hear from you. Tell me what you are doing to get ready for Christmas!

For part 2 click here.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Today Around My Table I'm Thankful For

Twenty-seven years of daily family meals do reap the reward of all that planning, shopping, slicing, dicing, and washing mountains of dirty dishes. Here are some of the things I'm thankful for that are the result of that consistant (and hopefully cheerful) work.

Girls in my kitchen--One of my favorite holiday activities is the day before when we all work together in the kitchen chopping, baking, decorating, and getting everything ready for the big day. I love it that these girls--daughters, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and I get along so well!

Samuel back at the table--Our son Samuel left home mid August for an internship at my cousin's company in Houston. It was something that could have led to a full time job, but God showed him many things while he was there including a totally different direction for his work and that he definitely wanted a lifetime with a certain young lady and that they wanted to settle (for now at least) near us. We're glad he's back--till January 19 when he'll start sitting at the head of his own table!

Noise and disruption at the table--November brought our second grandchild born by emergency c-section. They literally ran his laboring mother through the hospital corridors yelling at people to get out of the way and delivered him 10 minutes after arriving in the operating room! I spent 2 weeks at their house afterwards helping take care of  1 1/2 year Anna, newborn Kenneth, and daughter-in-law, Abby. So, yeah, the table was noisy and disrupted at times, but we were glad he's here!

Internet at the table--Sometimes you just have to know the answer to what you are discussing and sometimes the way to find out is to Google® it! Not only that, but the last three weeks my husband has been ministering in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam, so sometimes the only way to have him at the table "with" me was to read his letters online. (Just for the record: normally, I still say no technology at the table!)

Laughter at our table--We've had our share of trials and tears this past year, like every family has, so when we can just laugh together, I love it so much. Laughter releases tension, begins healing, and tightens bonds of love.

Maybe you are in the middle of the chaos of pre- and intra- dinner times when the kids meltdown, spill the milk (although that was usually Jim and I spilling it), and argue or turn their nose up at the vegetables. I want to encourage you to plug away. If tonight's not great, tomorrow could be better! 

And may you have help, many, noise, dialogue, and laughter at your table this Thanksgiving and every day.

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Linking with: Ni Hao Yall, Weekend Blog Hop

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giving Thanks vs. Being Thankful

Recently I was at a friend's house for a meal. Before we ate she gave thanks. I mean she really expressed her thankfulness to God, not just for the food she was about to eat, but for His presence in her life and all He gives her. She didn't go on and on. The words were simple, but rich and deep in meaning. I could tell she was talking to Someone to whom she was truly grateful.

Photo Credit: Wee Sing Bible Songs

I can remember when our oldest child first starting giving thanks at mealtimes. He always said, "Thank you for this nice day and this good food. Amen." He was three at the time and was probably more interested in eating the food than saying thank you for it. That's natural.

But I know adults who haven't gotten any farther than that perfunctory "Thank you" before they dig in. 

And I know I've been guilty of that too. 

That's why my friend's prayer was so refreshing. She wasn't a child being prodded by her mother, "What do you say?" She was truly grateful.

Her prayer has me paying more attention to what I say when I pray before meals. I stop and think a minute about what I'm thankful for and then I tell God about it. I don't take a long time I just express my gratefulness to God for all He has given me and does for me. <<Tweet This!

Photo Credit: Wee Sing Bible Songs

In this month when we are concentrating on thankfulness lets not just make lists of all the blessing we have, but think about those things, "look" at the Giver and tell Him from our hearts how much we appreciate it all.

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Linking with House on the Way, Create With Joy, Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thankful Feathers

"Oh, Mom! You always put our names on your feathers."

"That's because I'm thankful for each one of you."

Photo Credit: Second Chance to Dream

During the month of November when our kids were living at home, we had a construction paper turkey on the wall. The poor bird started out bald, but "grew" feathers as the month went on.

Every night at dinner we each chose a construction paper turkey "feather" and wrote on it what we were thankful for. Then we each told what we were thankful for and why. After we read the Bible each one would pray in turn, giving thanks for whatever they had been thankful for.

Some years we used a tree instead and wrote on the leaves. On Thanksgiving Day all of our guests were given a feather or leaf as well. It's good to remember to be thankful--and it allows the dinner to settle before we dig into Aunt Debi's famous pies!

One of our most exciting Thanksgiving Turkeys was a couple years ago when we went around the room and our daughter-in-law said she was thankful for her baby! Jim and I had known, but the rest of the family erupted in spontaneous joy at the news of a first niece or nephew, grandchild, and great grandchild!

It's not too late in the month to start your Thanksgiving Turkey or Tree and help your family to remember to be thankful for all they have.

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Don't forget to "like" the Around the Table Facebook Page to see frequent conversation question suggestions to help you connect with those you love!

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Our second "thankful feather" a grandson made a grand entrance on Wednesday, November 7, after 6 hours of labor he was born by emergency c-section.

Kenneth James 
(after his maternal and paternal grandfathers)
7 lbs. 12 oz.
21 inches

Praise God with us that all are well.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Post is Linked With

Every day I link up my post at these wonderful host blogs. I hope you will check out some of these link ups yourself for more great ideas or to link up too. 


Grandma's Grand Briefs Social
Inspire Me Monday
Busy Monday





Friendship Friday (Create with Joy)
The Pin Junkie


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