How to Strengthen Ties with Family and Friends During the Holidays

Ah, the holiday season is full upon us with one down and three to go.

Haunting Halloween.


Happy Thanksgiving.

Almost done!

Merry Christmas.

Just a smidgeon over a month away.

Happy New Year.

I’ll see your smidgeon plus one week more.

And in all the holiday festivities, we want to connect with something deeper, less fleeting than a big meal or presents under the tree.

So how do you strengthen the ties that bind—whether with family, friends, or God?

Let’s start in the kitchen since that’s where the action will be on Thursday morning (and you want to be where the action is, right?).

Make meal preparation a symphony, not a solo. Suvir Saran, a chef friend, suggested, if you’re having guests to dinner, invite them early and allow them to help with meal preparations.

Ellen and I did a test run in September with good friends. We each had a part in the preparation and the result was a meal invested in and enjoyed by all.

The idea resonated with our friend Kathy who mentioned that it made having guests over less intimidating. After all, people don’t typically complain about something they’ve helped make.

If you’re the Thanksgiving Day conductor, think in terms of overseeing the work rather than simply doing it yourself.

If you know the conductor, ask how you can help.

Okay, now on to the dining room.

Give the next generation a gift they can use. Last week on his blog, Jon Stolpe wrote about a great family tradition. His post made me both excited and sad—common emotions at this time of year.

His family brings out a special tablecloth for Thanksgiving. Each family member traces a spread hand on the tablecloth. Then they write five things for which they are thankful, one for each finger.

For me, the exciting part was the tangible evidence of God’s grace written on a tablecloth. The sad part was thinking of those whose hands would not be at the table this year.

I would have loved to see my mother’s hand and thankful thoughts every year at Thanksgiving or Christmas but she went Home three years ago.

Still I have the opportunity to pass on to the next generation the gift of a family heritage of faith in and gratitude toward God.

I’m curious. What holiday traditions do you have that strengthen family and community?

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Recommended links:

Richard Burkey’s “Quotes for Launching a Daily Gratitude Revolution”

Kari Scare’s “Sunday Reflections–Cultivating Thankfulness”

Jer Monson’s “Making Your Life Count: The Three T’s of Service”

Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes

Two men. Two eternal destinies.

One common hope.

A poignant and compelling portrayal of heaven and hell, with a powerful look at redemption from the perspective of both the lost…and the saved. Well done!–Susan May Warren, best-selling, award-winning author of You Don’t Know Me.

“Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes” was a compelling read for me. The vivid descriptions challenged and ignited my imagination. Tom skillfully laid out a clever story that caused me to think and made me want to read to the end.–Ron Fruit GM, WRCO Radio

Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes can be found at:

WestBow Press

Barnes & Noble

If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing. Each new post will come directly to your email inbox. Check out the Email Subscription box in the right-hand column.

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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4 Responses to How to Strengthen Ties with Family and Friends During the Holidays

  1. Jon Stolpe says:

    Thanks for the mention, my friend. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I’ll be interested to hear how your new tradition begins.

  2. Barb says:

    We embrace your idea of making cooking a group experience. This Thanksgiving we had our 16 year old, our two college kids, and four of their friends from China – everyone was in the kitchen at once cooking dishes to bring to another family’s house who we were joining for Thanksgiving. It was so fun to hear the happy chatter. It was the first Thanksgiving dinner ever for three of the Chinese kids and they enjoyed sharing in all of our traditions. The next night they all cooked a Chinese feast for us and we were all in the kitchen making Chinese dumplings. I feel incredibly grateful for family and friends.

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