Do you have college kids coming home for Thanksgiving? I have two sons coming home for Thanksgiving break from their respective universities, and I want to use this powerful holiday in every way to reinforce our family culture. So in the midst of meal planning and pre-Christmas decoration, here’s my plan:
- Share power in the planning. They’ve just spent most of the semester making their own plans, eating whenever they wanted, and not telling me where they are or what time they are coming home. Although I might be tempted to revert back to that level of accountability and control, this is the unique season when they are becoming autonomous, and yet, interdependent. I will ask them for input as I make our holiday plans, everything from what they want to do, to who we include. As they use their voice, we’ll navigate this new season together.
- Prepare my heart for changes. They are growing and becoming, so it’s inevitable I will be surprised by their new ideas, or interests. Instead of wondering, “How come I am only finding out about this now?” I need to lean in and listen to them. Researchers tell us that our brains perceive being heard in much the same way they perceive being loved. So when I ask questions, am curious, and honor their stories, I am sending a message of love.
- Be intentional. Home is where you are known, so I’ll buy that special food item they want. I’ll invite them to play the game they love or rewatch an old movie favorite. When we do that, we are saying, “I know you. I know what you like…” Those details remind them this is where they came from, with people who watched them fall in love with a sport, or a girl, or hobby.
- Be flexible. In our home, we have a saying: “expectations are premeditated resentments.” I am trying to hold loosely to the visions I have in my mind of Black Friday shopping and pick-up football games. Those might still happen, but so might them catching up with high school friends and enjoying the chance to sleep in. I am holding onto plans loosely, so I can be grateful when those moments do happen.
- Pray. I have spent a lot of years caring for these sons, and I am pretty vested. But there is no one who loves my sons like Jesus. Giving them over to Him has been a lifelong journey and taking a posture of prayer helps remind me I can trust God. Regardless of how the visit goes, it’s just one step in a long journey. One that asks me to be present, Spirit-filled and relational.
So here’s to the turkey trots, the football games, the visits with extended family, the cooking, the shopping and the connecting.