Some of us eagerly anticipate the holiday season, decorating for Christmas earlier and earlier each year. Others dread it and don’t like the frantic pace it brings. Either way, this season evokes a lot of emotion.
And it can bring about a fair amount of stress as well. From family dynamics to preparations to expectations, it’s easy to get weighed down.
For me, Thanksgiving seems to move at a little bit slower pace than Christmas. Maybe because it’s one day and there’s only one meal to prepare for and no gifts to buy. But I think Thanksgiving feels a little more introspective too, doesn’t it? It causes us to pause and reflect on the blessings and hardships of our year.
Adding Baby’s First Thanksgiving into the mix can make us feel the need for everything to be perfect. But have you discovered yet that nothing is perfect? Have you found that it’s often in the imperfect that lessons are learned and memories are made?
There certainly are demands we put on ourselves and stressors others put on us, especially at the holidays. Let me help you release some of those pressure points and suggest some ideas and traditions that hopefully will free you this year as you celebrate Baby’s first Thanksgiving.
Baby’s First Thanksgiving: Old and New Traditions
Tradition: Documenting each joyful moment of the day.
Pressure Point Release: Pass the camera off to others and let them document the day. That allows you to be present and rest easy that things are being recorded. They may even catch a precious moment between you and your new baby you didn’t know anyone saw.
Tradition: Preparing all the delicious food.
Pressure Point Release: Even if you share the load with others as you prepare a large meal, it is still no small endeavor. Consider ordering the entire pre-made meal ahead of time from your local grocery store or restaurant.
Have you ever added up how much money you spend on groceries for the meal? Who knows, maybe you’ll be saving money in addition to time and stress. There’s no shame in letting someone else do all the work and maybe you’ve just found a new Thanksgiving tradition.
Tradition: Making Baby’s first holiday special by starting new traditions.
Pressure Point Release: The desire to make things special is real and valid. But special doesn’t always need to be extravagant and over the top. Something as simple as a cute Thanksgiving onsie can set the day apart. A family picture with the newest addition is always a delight and a special way to see the family expand over the years.
Another charming tradition is creating a Thanksgiving table cloth where everyone gathers around and writes their name. You could trace baby’s hand and write the date by it then see how that sweet hand grows over the years. It becomes an effortless tradition year after year.
Tradition: Celebrating Thanksgiving with only your immediate family for the first time.
Pressure Point Release: I know this one personally. Living away from parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins at the holidays is particularly hard especially when the little ones come along. I’m grateful for technology, such as Skype and FaceTime, to at least see those precious, far away faces.
Our first holiday away from family, we started Friendsgiving with others that were without family as well. It became such fun to celebrate in a new way and those friends became like family.
Whether you love or tolerate the holidays and feel prepared or not, take a deep breath and first focus on the being thankful for that sweet baby you are holding in your arms. That baby is a gift and anything else after that is just gravy (see what I did there?). Be in the moment and don’t get too caught up in trying to create and preserve the perfect moment.
We'd love to hear your Thanksgiving traditions below! You can also read my article on how to express gratitude as a family this Thanksgiving.
Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.