1. Family is the most important and best thing about the holiday!
When it comes down to it, it doesn't matter whether you do it the way you always do it. It doesn't matter that you can't celebrate where you've always celebrated. It doesn't matter whether every tradition goes off without a hitch. It doesn't even matter if the food turns out poorly! If your family isn't there, no one is there to notice anyway.
2. You can never have enough platters and serving pieces.
I'm totally serious! I have platters, bowls, all sorts of things in or on which to put food, but I definitely underestimated! Thankfully, my mom didn't. She had a few little bowls, trays and other things stashed in her car in case the occasion warranted them. I guess after you do this for many years, you use the same dishes for the same food item, but I had not planned each thing out!
3. The amount of cleaning is incredible!
Plus, it's even harder without a garbage disposal! I'm pretty sure my mom and Grammy normally took care of the cleaning! Lauren and I always helped out setting the table, getting drinks, clearing the table, and staying WAY out of the way of the kitchen. This year, my mom and I probably did the same amount of dishes before dinner while we were preparing food, as after dinner. I actually enjoyed doing the dishes after dinner and dessert to just get the house back in order, but before dinner it was never-ending! I didn't think about doing all the pots and pans and utensils so you can use and re-use them over and over and so you can clear some counter space to keep yourself sane!
4. The biggest thing of hosting your first Thanksgiving is having help from someone who has done it many times before.
I'm not going to lie, I really enjoyed making cookies, brownies, pies, and other desserts. I even didn't mind making the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. But I had NO clue how to do all those things and more, and cook a turkey at the same time, and get everything to stay warm and be ready all at one time. My mom just stepped up and led the charge! She has always done Thanksgiving at our house so she's got it down to a science. I definitely couldn't have done it by myself! Nor would I have wanted to try. Actually, my plan all along was to wait and see what she suggested!
5. Flexibility makes the holidays so much nicer and stress-free.
Chris and I are both very thankful for the flexibility shown by our families this holiday. We were not able to travel due to basketball practice on Thanksgiving, but it didn't end up mattering in the least! Our entire families including all of our siblings (and we have a lot of those!) took time out of their holidays and away from their friends and houses to come spend time with us! This quality is especially important to us because the season falls over several major holidays and we really appreciate the effort our families (and friends!!) have made.
So here's to our first Thanksgiving! Maybe next year I'll share more lessons about planning for leftovers when you are a two-person family, managing 8-foot tables, and having someone who is willing to make all last minute grocery runs...