Keep it Simple
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Every year I vow that I will not wear myself to a frazzle trying to make the holiday perfect for everyone, and every year, I ignore my own sage advice, go overboard, and end up exhausted.
You’re nodding your head right now because you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you, friend? You plan, shop, clean and cook. You set a beautiful table. You get yourself and your family all dressed up, envisioning everyone lingering over the delicious meal you’ve worked for days to prepare, and it’s all over in maybe half an hour. Then, you’re even more exhausted at the mere thought of cleaning all those dishes.
This year, since we can’t have a whole houseful of friends and family, I feel pressured to try to give my family an even more wonderful Thanksgiving dinner to make up for what is seemingly lacking, instead of embracing the potential for a more relaxed and enjoyable day.
As I struggled with my vow versus my inherent need to provide the perfect holiday experience and considered the flurry of activity and preparation necessary for me to make the holidays extra special this year, the Holy Spirit reminded me of another woman who was so concerned with being an excellent hostess that she missed out on the best part of her dinner party – enjoying time with her guest-of-honor, Jesus.
In Luke 10:38-41 (ESV), we read about two sisters, Mary and Martha. When Jesus visited their village, Martha invited Him, and presumably His followers, to stay at her house, and it’s inferred that she prepared a special meal because we read in verse 40 that “Martha was distracted with much serving.”
Now, Martha’s sister, Mary, had a better idea. She “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.” (Luke 10:39) Martha, of course, took exception to this and complained to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” (vs. 40)
That was bold! Obviously, Martha felt a close friendship with Jesus to speak to him so bluntly, and rather than rebuking her tone, Jesus gently replied, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41,42)
Jesus was not telling Martha that she was wrong for worrying over the meal, but that she was going overboard and missing out on spending time with him, while Mary had made the better choice. John MacArthur’s note says, “Martha was evidently fussing about with details that were unnecessarily elaborate.” [Emphasis mine.]
I understand Martha’s impulse to set the very best she had to offer before the Lord. As we are admonished in Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men.” I’ve always taken that to heart and given my very best effort, as though Jesus himself would be my guest. So, when I lay out the Thanksgiving meal, I imagine the Lord himself sitting down to eat with us.
And since I am so very grateful for my family, I try to lay my very best before them, because to me, giving my best to my family demonstrates my deep love for them and my gratitude to the Lord for blessing me with them. I’m sure Martha felt the same, but like Jesus wanted Martha to demonstrate her love simply by spending time with Him, my family would prefer that I spend less time fussing over the meal and more with them.
Years from now when my children reflect on their favorite Thanksgivings, they probably won’t remember, or even care, whether the pie was made from scratch in my kitchen or Marie Callender’s. They’ll more likely remember how much fun we had together, how mom got out of the kitchen and watched It’s a Wonderful Life and played Monopoly.
So, friend, this year, my suggestion is that we buy the pies, make fewer dishes, let our husbands fry the turkeys (trust me on this) and just enjoy the time with the people we love most - with thanksgiving.