Last Updated on March 20, 2018

For someone who isn’t into the Food Channel or trying new recipes or buying the latest Rachael Ray cookbook, I’ve recently logged more hours than I can count in the kitchen. Maybe Julia Child would be proud, or maybe Betty Crocker, or maybe my mother. But it’s really my kids I’m aiming to please.

Anticipating the arrival of ALL my kids for Thanksgiving, I began in early November planning what I could prepare ahead of time and freeze. My goal was and is to avoid being imprisoned in the kitchen. So far I have made and frozen a double batch of spice cookies (Betty Crocker 1939 cookbook and the best ever), three batches of my grandmother’s cornbread dressing and the gravy that goes with it, a double recipe of our not-to-be-missed cheese grits and a double batch of meatballs and gravy to be served over rice on Saturday night when all the leftovers are gone.

Then I took a break from the kitchen to wash all the sheets to get the bedrooms (and bathrooms) ready, including our triple built-in bunk beds where the grandkids will sleep. I’m assigning the six boys, ages 2-10, to the bunks, two kids per bed. The girls and babies will be elsewhere with parents and in pack ‘n plays.

This past week it was back to kitchen duty for pies, breakfast casseroles, and a few other make-ahead items. It also seemed time to add leaves to the table, the tablecloth and candles and to run the vacuum. As I pushed it around I wondered if I should have waited until everyone was gone to clean the floors.

Knowing the arrival of my family will mean much trekking between cars and house with all the necessary gear for 13 kids, I also raked mountains of leaves from the driveway and sidewalks. If it’s raining or wet, my hope is no one will slip on my sloping driveway and crash, and that a minimum number of leaves will cross the threshold and into the house. It’s worth trying, I guess. Thanksgiving week has now arrived. Quite honestly my emotions have been all over the map this month. I am thrilled that they are all coming and honored that they want to come home. I’m excited about the scavenger hunt we’ve planned for the kids. But I’ve also felt moments of anxiety knowing that the high point of our annual celebration—the sharing of what we are thankful for—will be mildly-controlled chaos with 13 young children and 13 adults.

As I genuinely look forward to the first arrivals this evening I have determined to open my hands to my Father and give all my plans and preparations to Him. Yes, I want my children to enjoy every minute of our time together, but more than that I want my Father to be pleased with me, His child in His presence. And I will chose to give thanks each day for what He brings whether it is according to my plans and hopes or something unexpected. He is sufficient and if I let Him He will strengthen me for the challenges. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and I choose to be found a grateful woman. As I open my arms to receive the first of my returning children I will also welcome what they bring to the dynamics of our ever-changing family. Did I mention that our son-in-law and daughter are bringing their two dogs, one a yet-to-be-trained puppy?

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  1. Yeah! And as your honey would say..”this is REAL Familylife”
    Happy Thanksgiving, Barbara. From one mom to another.

  2. Thank you for your posts. I always find them so encouraging. My husband of 21 yrs. have six children 9-19 and I love hearing about your older six and how they have all matured despite mistakes you and your husband made along the way. People often ask me what we did that our children seem to be turning out so well. I always tell them that I don’t really know but that we made a lot of mistakes along the way and a lot of prayer to fil in the gaps of our mistakes. Keep posting and enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family(looking forward to having a similar one in a few years:) Barb