The Joys of Hosting Thanksgiving: Turkey, Triumphs, and Tenderness

by Jacob Abshire on November 24, 2023

As I sit here, reminiscing about yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebration, my heart is still full, not just from the delicious turkey and unexpected bread pudding but from the joy that filled our home. From inviting family, friends, and neighbors to cutting our first turkey without severing a finger, the day was nothing short of a celebration with love, laughter, and a bit of divine intervention.

This was our first year to host Thanksgiving—ever. Typically, we traveled north of Houston to my parent’s home and then sped south to gather with my wife’s family. This has always been a fun, although tiresome, experience. We always enjoy it. However, now that our children are older and coming home for the holidays, we decided to host to provide less travel and more time as a family. 

Although it was a first-of-its-kind, we were primed for the challenges. The cost of preparations, the advanced work, the uncertainties of guests, the need for more space, and the ignorance of how to cut a turkey. It took work. (My heart goes out to all who host.) But it was well worth the effort, and here are a few reasons why.

Blessing Us and Treating Others

Thanksgiving is a day when the kitchen becomes a battlefield, and we, the culinary soldiers, march to the rhythm of roasting turkeys and bubbling casseroles. It’s hard work, no doubt. Preparing a feast for a small army tests your patience and endurance. But here’s the catch — it’s a labor of love. Yesterday, as I watched the faces light up with every bite, I realized my family was using their God-given resources to bless others.  This, my friends, is one of the keys to Thanksgiving.

Opening Doors and Entering Hearts

The Bible speaks volumes about hospitality, and what better time to practice this than Thanksgiving? Opening our home to a mixed bunch — family, friends, and those neighbors we only wave to — was an act of obedience to the call to show hospitality. But it’s more than just open doors; it’s open hearts. Seeing people from different walks of life breaking bread together was like watching a live enactment of the Gospel message. Even if our guests didn’t see it, we did.

Serving Food and Sharing Grace

In the midst of the turkey and trimmings, it’s easy to lose sight of why we are eternally thankful. As hosts, we had the unique privilege of controlling the meaning and message. We steered conversations towards gratitude, not just for the bountiful food but for the unending grace of God. Sharing the Gospel message subtly through our actions and words made the day not just about thanks-giving but also about God-giving.

Crafting Memories and Capturing Joy

From the moment our guests entered to the last goodbye, memories were being made. Our home became a canvas, each moment a paint stroke creating a work of grace. The laughter, the stories shared, the clinking of glasses — every bit contributed to this beautiful picture. And let’s not forget the pictures we took, capturing these fleeting moments and turning them into lasting memories.

Imparting Love and Adorning Salvation

In the mix of our guests were souls yearning for something deeper. Thanksgiving provided a unique opportunity to be agents of God’s grace. Through our words, actions, and even the peaceful atmosphere, we shared the love of Christ. It wasn’t about preaching from a pulpit but living out the Gospel in the most practical, heartfelt way.

Hosting Thanksgiving is a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute, you’re laughing as you narrowly avoid a kitchen disaster, and the next, you’re holding back tears of joy seeing old friends reconnect. The beauty of it all is in the chaos, the challenge, and ultimately, the joy it brings. It’s about being God’s hands and feet, serving others, and, in doing so, serving Him.

As the last dish was washed and the final guest waved goodbye, I felt a sense of accomplishment and deep gratitude. Yes, hosting Thanksgiving is hard work, but it’s also a joy-filled experience. It’s about more than just a feast; it’s about feeding souls, fostering fellowship, and being a living example of God’s grace and love. So, here’s to Thanksgiving – a day of giving, loving, and, most importantly, thanking our Heavenly Father for His endless blessings.

As you reflect on the joys and challenges of Thanksgiving, how can you intentionally use this season to advance the Gospel message and demonstrate Christ’s love in your own gatherings?

Oh yea, we ended the night by heading to the local baseball park and inviting some families to join us for a kickball game for all ages. It’s good to think outside the box. Below is a photo of some of kids after the game.

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