The new book (coming in February of 2018!) has a chapter titled thusly:

When Thanksgiving Includes a Table for Ninety-Eight

Because the holidays are supposed to be this joyous time of fun and laughter and cocoa and loving family togetherness, all gathered around the table. All ninety-eight of us.

But reality proves otherwise, year after year after year. Those joyous times are actually full of crazy relatives, hyperactive children who have been ingesting pure sugar (or possibly cocaine) since rising at 5:30am, and an angry woman in the kitchen, pretending she’s glad she’s making all this extra food again.

For example.

The other day I was in my kitchen, whipping together a batch of cornbread with a wee bit too much ferocity and WAY TOO MUCH resentment. I cracked eggs like they were responsible for my bad attitude and I griped out loud about all the cooking required this time of year.

I can barely keep up with the regular meals around this house, so when we start throwing in extra potlucks and dessert tables and transporting hot dishes across the county to church, I sort of lose it.

It’s not lost on me that– once again– I’ve covered this at length in a book I have written. I believe the Lord just thinks it’s just hilarious that I get to write a book and then must return to that book to relearn the same lesson. Sometimes hundreds of times.

But ANYWAY, the point of the holidays shouldn’t be about the food or the eggs or the drives or the hassle. A holiday should be one more chance to love others, one more chance to glorify God in our daily lives.

But this can be really, really hard when the ninety-eight people around the dining table are driving you crazy in ninety-eight different ways. (***Not that I know this from personal experience because the people who share the holiday table with me are shining lights of perfection, normalcy, and delight at all times.***)

Here, let’s go back to the chapter about this in I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars:

For this, we grit our teeth and choose to be flexible. We choose to accept differences and be content with the fact that our family members are who they are. We aren’t going to change them. They aren’t looking for our approval; they’re looking for pumpkin pie and a football game. They don’t care how many hours we spent on the decorations or the turkey; they just want a safe place to put the baby down while they talk to other adults. They might need a comfortable chair for their old bones, or a big glass of water for their back pills.

See? What are we so worried about? It’s all fine. There’s nothing here that can’t be fixed with a little flexibility and kindness, right? Among Christians, everyone gets a place. Everyone gets a seat. Weirdo or not.

I’m trying to relax a little and enjoy these loved ones. I’m trying to extend a seat with grace and patience and genuine affection, and I’ve got to be honest– it’s not super easy. And I know I also grate on the nerves of the others around the table like salt in an open wound sometimes. WE ALL GET TO BE A LITTLE CRAZY, OKAY?

Okay.

I need to remember this— when Jesus said to love others, he didn’t mean in some far off, mystical place. He means right now, right here, in this very time. These very people. The love and the grace start with the smallest things, deep in my heart. They don’t start with turkey or ham or gravy.

They start with the Holy Spirit taking my willing heart and turning me into someone who is loving and kind, despite myself.

Ninety-eight different ways.

 

7 Comments on We all have holiday problems, but that’s okay– it probably won’t kill us too badly

  1. Pearl Allard
    November 29, 2017 at 5:11 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Jessie, I love your humor and how down-to-earth you are. Thanks for making me laugh! 😊

  2. Jessica Morgan Clemence
    November 29, 2017 at 5:45 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Thank you!

  3. Anthony Baker
    November 29, 2017 at 7:11 pm (2 weeks ago)

    This was the first year in a long time that we were able to have Thanksgiving dinner at our own home. What made it special was that it was only our nuclear family plus my mother and grandmother. It wasn’t hectic, crazy, or done too early in the morning. We waited till afternoon to have dinner, and then had plenty of leftovers that we didn’t have to send home with people we didn’t know. It was the very first stress-free Thanksgiving I can remember. And my 95-year-old grandmother being astonished that she still had a left-hand to use – she forgot it was there – just added to the entertainment.

  4. lardavbern
    November 29, 2017 at 7:22 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Uhhh, happy holidays?
    And, uh happy cooking?

  5. Jessica Morgan Clemence
    November 29, 2017 at 8:33 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Oh, silly gramma and the old left arm trick! Ha!

  6. Jessica Morgan Clemence
    November 29, 2017 at 8:34 pm (2 weeks ago)

    I’m totally going to be that old woman who caters in the big dinner. 🙂

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