It’s Thanksgiving–the Superbowl of food. There are so many lofty things I’d love to do…some of the time. One moment I want to put on a spread worthy of Martha Stewart and the next, run from the house and make reservations at an all-you-can-eat Chinese food buffet. Ever been there?

As a single mom with no extended family nearby, I’ve enjoyed a gift the past few Thanksgivings of some friends who also had no extended family nearby. We’d get together and pool resources and hang at their house because Carrie, my sweet friend, is so gifted at hospitality. But they moved this summer. Sadness. And so this year it’s just me and the kids, minus the one far from home at college. More sadness.

As I begin to look at the calendar and realize I need to meal plan and shop and decide if I was making fantastic dishes that were new and finally try pie crust from scratch, my tension started to rise. And then I remembered a simple acronym I bet you’ve heard: KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

My kids want to eat good food and enjoy a chill day with a mom who is not crazy. So do yours.

So I’m tossing the grandeous plans to experiment with a kale salad I saw recently or dig out a really calorie-packed corn dish I had years ago but kids have never tried.  Instead, I’m including my kids in the planning. We’re going to chat over dinner tonight as to what they want and plan my grocery list accordingly. And, we are going to chat about how they will help me tackle the list we come up with, each taking on some of the load. Can I get a hand clap for no mom left alone in the kitchen?

I’m not going to learn to fold napkins in amazing ways that would work at the Waldorf Hotel or create a seasonal centerpiece from local plants. My 9-year-old adores setting the table all pretty and fancy. That’s her job now and I’ll love whatever she comes up with–China or no, matching or not. It’ll be awesome.

My one thing to focus on this Thanksgiving? Simplicity with no guilt. 

If the Martha Stewart-thing brings you joy, have at it! Make a spread that’ll make them gasp. But don’t do it because of some unrealistic expectation or because it’s what you’ve always done. Do it because, and only if, it brings you joy.

If nobody likes turkey, make something else. If you’ve always made three different pies and the thought makes your stomach lurch, ask the family to pick one or two. Or buy a frozen one. If each year you make a sweet potato casserole that you end up eating all the leftovers by yourself for a week, skip it.

Don’t give into the lie that you MUST do something because it’s expected or tradition. Focus on the family you are trying to serve with love and comfort food and let the rest go. And be thankful for the smiles that you’ll see on Thursday. May you have the happiest of Thanksgivings.

What’s one thing you love doing on Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear in the comments.

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