However, Thanksgiving can sometimes be a lonely holiday for families in ministry. Most ministry families who live away from their parents and grandparents must choose whether to "go home " for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Very rarely do staff members have enough vacation to travel both times. Since leaving Arkansas almost 12 years ago, we've never been "home" for Thanksgiving.
Honestly Blake and I don't mind so much, and our kids haven't really ever known what it's like to live near family. Truthfully, Blake and I have always been the family rebels. I figure it's part of the reason I have a degree in Home Economics, so I can pull together an entire Thanksgiving meal without a mom's help. (And truthfully, my own mother wasn't much of a cook. Now Blake's mom? That's totally different !! She will always be able to cook circles around me! All our family favorites are her recipes.) Even though I have no problem cooking, I do sort of miss the whole family vibe of Thanksgiving.
The closest thing to an extended family Thanksgiving my we've had was spending the day with our dear friends, the Carman's, during our time in Georgia. Now to be direct, not everyone wants the preacher's family for a holiday! We get that! Trust me, it's as stressful for us as it is for anyone who hosts us. We have a hard time being ourselves, always afraid we'll blow Blake's reputation. But the Carman's aren't church members as much as they are true, real friends! They always let us be ourselves, and they were themselves! Our boys enjoyed crazy fun before lunch and we all enjoyed dominoes afterward! There was the annual planning of Black Friday complete with newspapers , then watching football! And Lord have mercy, they can cook! Jim. (Aka Kermit) Carman's smoked ham just about kept me from following Blake to Lee's Summit! And to this day I cannot make gravy without texting Kermit and Andrea because we had the annual argument over how to do it. So when we think Thanksgiving, we are thinking about lunch with the Carman's!
We are thankfully within three hours of my sister these days so we can have time with family for the day. I'll be hosting her family on Thursday, and it will be a fun time with a house full of teenage boys. (I'll be cooking extra to feed said bottomless pits!) Sarah and Caleb help me cook so we have lots of fun preparing! My sister and I are making up for lost time because she was on her own and working in retail when I was growing up...never coming home for Thanksgiving.
I said all this to ask you to please think about the ministers at your church! I'm not saying you should include them with your family, but just an acknowledgement of them would be an encouragement. I often see young ministry families try to figure out how to have tradition for their young families without over stretching their budget at Thanksgiving. Whether it's plane tickets home or the cost of the entire traditional meal, it's tough to make that stereotypical Thanksgiving happen! Sometimes it's even tougher to host parents and grandparents because of limited space. It's one of the things we readily sign up for when we go into ministry, but it's still hard and melancholy at times. Just telling your younger ministers that you appreciate them makes a difference.
I'll be forever grateful for my friends Kermit, Andrea, and Jimmy as well as Andrea's sister and father who gave us a place to "go home to" for several years! As much as I miss being with family on Thanksgiving, I truly miss our Carman family too! I wish we could make gravy together again!