“Cooking for Thanksgiving makes me so anxious,” a friend wrote in our group chat today.
“I worry more about the house than the food,” another chimed in.
The conversation went on like that for a few minutes as I hustled around my own kitchen clearing off the counter to start baking.
Here’s the thing: a lot of us look forward to the holidays. The food, the company, the traditions. We post the pretty parts on social media with a sweet caption about how blessed we are.
But there’s another layer that we don’t talk about quite as much, and it’s this: Hosting and cleaning and cooking and allllll the things that come with these gatherings can be downright stressful—especially for moms, it seems.
When all we see online are gorgeous tablescapes (the ones I always pin but never actually put together), spotless homes, and cookbook-worthy recipes, we start to feel a whole heck of a lot of pressure to put on the flawless holiday celebration. And if we’re not careful, chasing that perfection can take away all the joy the holidays are really meant to be about.
So if you’re here too, mama, I have a little reminder for you.
That beautiful table?
That perfect apple pie with little leaf cutouts on top?
The house that took you days to clean but will be dirty again in 48 hours?
Those things are great, but please give yourself enough grace to remember that they aren’t what make the holidays special.
What make the holidays truly great are the people who sit around your table.
It’s the laughter and meaningful conversation with friends and family you love most.
It’s sitting back and watching the kids as they run squealing through the house, or joining in a game of backyard football after the big meal.
It’s hearing a story from grandma and a new joke from grandpa, if you can count yourself among those lucky enough to still have those precious guests of honor.
It’s taking a pause in life to really count your blessings and remember that despite all of the hard—despite the bills that keep piling up or the work project that isn’t going so well or the behavior struggle you’re having with your kid—this life? This simple, messy, complicated life? It’s pretty great. And there’s so much to be thankful for.
So if you find yourself doing something crazy like wiping down the baseboards at 11pm or restarting the dessert you accidentally burned or running to the store at the last minute to pick up a new set of matching dishes . . . take a step back.
Ask yourself if the thing that’s stressing you out is something that actually matters, or if you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.
What good are the holidays anyway if you’re too overwhelmed to enjoy them?
The truth is that 99% of people who you’re sharing the holidays with don’t actually care about the food or the way things look . . . they care about spending time with you.
And that togetherness with the ones you love, mama friend? Is the only thing that truly matters.