5 Tips to Have a Peaceful Thanksgiving with Family

As a kid, I remember drawing a turkey with my hand. I traced around each finger and the palm of my hand was the base of the turkey, the fingers were the feathers, and the thumb was the face. From now on when we think of the five fingers of our hand, may we begin to think about five ways to be a peacemaker.

thanksgiving dinner prayer

Everyone has a relative or two who can be difficult to navigate in the relationship. Whether it be different personalities, political views, or perspectives on life, the holidays can be challenging for so many. We see those smiling and laughing families on television and in social media posts and compare our experiences.

We might dream of food cooked to perfection, harmonious conversations, and winning the football game that afternoon. We may imagine the best small talk over the turkey and gravy. It is ok to have goals, but it is also good to be realistic when it comes to the holidays and loved ones. Today, we will discuss five ways to have a peaceful Thanksgiving with our families.

As a kid, I remember drawing a turkey with my hand. I traced around each finger and the palm of my hand was the base of the turkey, the fingers were the feathers, and the thumb was the face. From now on when we think of the five fingers of our hand, may we begin to think about five ways to be a peacemaker. Someone once told me that God does not call us to be peacekeepers, but we are called to be peacemakers.

1. Release Your Own Stress to the Lord Beforehand

Everyone is coming from different experiences and stressors. Before walking into the house or apartment to celebrate, take a moment. Before we can make peace and have a happy Thanksgiving, we should take time to seek the Prince of Peace. Instead of going through the habit of running inside with your dish, or running around your house if you are the host, pause.

Stop and pray.

Tell God your anxious thoughts and ask Him to help you to live by His Spirit. Then, spend a moment in gratitude for all of the blessings in your life. This will provide a reset before cooking or entering the busy.

2. Ask Questions

One of my biggest pet peeves is when conversations seem to just be comments of what is happening. In order to build relationships with family members, we need to be active listeners. Asking questions that give insight shows our relatives that we care about them and gives us more information about who they are and how we can love them better.

On top of that, ask questions to the head chef that day to see if he or she needs anything. Sometimes people in those roles hesitate to ask, but we can help them to stay more present if we offer extra hands.

3. Do a Thankful Activity Together 

Taking time before or during the Thanksgiving meal to have gratitude together is a great way to bond as family. I personally love the thankful tree. Everyone has paper leaves and writes out what they are grateful for, then places the leaves on the tree. You can purchase the paper tree and leaves ahead of time or make them yourself.

Maybe you like to go around and say what you are all thankful for. Perhaps you like to pray together as a family, each thanking the Lord for something in your life? Whatever activity you choose, spend time thinking of how it can bring a moment of peace and unity.

Book of Psalms opened with fall leaves surrounding the Bible

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/MKucova

4. Set Realistic Expectations

If it is time to take a family photo and you want that perfect shot, remember that there will be babies crying, kids frowning, and loved ones chatting, distracted from the picture. Setting realistic expectations for moments like these helps us to remember that we are in an imperfect world and humility is key.

When we become prideful about the event or the food or the perfect family photo, we miss the moment of enjoying the gift of life and community. We can easily accomplish proper expectations when we have our priorities in line. We need to continually make sure that Christ is number one. When He is first place in our hearts and minds, we invite Him into our holiday and know that all the other details are insignificant compared to Him. Ask the Lord to help you refocus your mind anytime anger, frustration, or perfectionism creeps up inside.

5. Make Room for the Gospel/Scripture

Maybe your family has a lifelong tradition of reading the Bible on Thanksgiving? Maybe you have never thought about incorporating Scripture on this holiday. Perhaps you have not known how you can do this other than by prayer?

Consider using resources for Thanksgiving. Check out the resources at Desiring God, Christian Bible Studies on Thanksgiving, or simply share gratitude for the sacrifice of Jesus. It is great to come together and be thankful for the physical things in our lives, however we as believers need the main focus to be on Jesus and our gratitude for Him. We can model this to family and friends by taking time to share personal testimonies, reading a Psalm or another passage of the Bible with gratitude as the focus, or sharing the gospel in a short message about our thankfulness for the resurrection and freedom of religion in America.

However you choose to incorporate faith, remember that this will be the most important part of the day, modeling to the next generation the joy of having Christ.

Bible Verse on Thankfulness

1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

Psalm 34:1 “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

Psalm 100:4-5 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 106:1 "Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.”

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

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Emma DanzeyEmma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com