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Boundaries: A New Thanksgiving Tradition

Last year I put up our 12-foot Christmas tree on the 1st of November and then awaited the oohs and ahs from my family. To my chagrin, my teenage grandsons, who I thought would be full of confetti praise, were not happy. And since we live in the same house, when it’s possible, we try to do what works for all. The boys thought the early appearance of Christmas was pushing Thanksgiving to the curb, like those annoying holiday commercials that pop up in August. However, I thought because it’s tons of effort to get the tree up and decorated we could revel in its beauty for an extra month.

My surprise for our household fizzled. Sure I could still enjoy it, and I did, but quite honestly half my joy in decorating is in their delight.

This year with only a few days until Thanksgiving there’s not a decoration to be seen on our premise. Honey, Nana learns fast. And today my son and his family left on a week-long cruise, which means, I can decorate to my heart’s content, while they are a-float on the boat.

I’m grateful my boys see Thanksgiving as worthy of its own day and that Christmas needs to be protected from a sense of commercialism. (Of course, the only thing I was promoting was an integration of two joyous holidays. Sigh. But it is my tendency to overdo. I own that.)

A New Thanksgiving Tradition

Quite honestly boundaries was a concept that alluded me for years, until I was an adult, and even then I struggled to put them into my life and to recognize and respect them in the lives of others.

My earlier statement about I learn fast, didn’t apply to boundaries. But today I’m so good at calling personal fouls I could work for the NFL with a whistle and a flag, announcing offsides, face masks, and unnecessary roughing. But beware, we don’t want our boundaries to become control for control’s sake, so don’t carry a big stick. If you need one you should change your guest list or your heart (Jesus will help, he did me).

I say all that to suggest boundaries are the most valuable decor
you can add to make holiday time a holy time. They are about sanity, respect, guidelines, and thoughtfulness. If Aunt Betty doesn’t want a helping of your famous mashed potato pie, don’t take it personally, and don’t make her refusal the table discussion. If someone waves off dessert, don’t insist. If guests historically stay too long, but you enjoy their company and want them included, set a timeframe on your gathering ahead of time. Then they can decide if they want to join you.

If you are always left depleted of your joy from taking on too much, You Are in Charge of You.

Do things differently. Simplify and ask for help. Different can be a lovely new tradition. Besides those around us may need an example of how boundaries can be lovingly and surely set in place.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for our many blessings. May we be generous toward others as we realize how bounteous you have been toward us. Teach us true hospitality and may we be certain, but not harsh, and merciful, but not indulgent. May we give out of love and not with return expectations. And protect those of us, from ourselves, who want everything perfect at the cost of conviviality and meaningful conversations. Also, those of us who have control issues, help us to grow in humility and trust in you.

We realize life is a journey of learning experiences. May you find us to be attentive, studious and joyous students eager to receive from your divine hand of love.



  1. Elizabeth Strahan on November 22, 2018 at 7:21 am

    Amen! A great lesson for the day. Happy Thanksgiving! I better get up and set the table and finish cooking.

  2. Mary Beth Klick on November 22, 2018 at 8:53 am

    This is so good. I feel the same way about Thanksgiving, it’s a totally separate holiday from Christmas. Please don’t push them together!! Lol But the boundaries that we make are up to us. And it’s also up to us to really listen to others. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!!

  3. Cyndy on November 22, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Thank you Patsy! I love your insight! I’m a control freak. I needed this reminder . God bless you. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

  4. Diana Pintar on November 22, 2018 at 10:36 am

    My friend, this is the “keeper” I copied into my “notes” to be pulled up for a quick reminder when holiday pressure pinches and I tempted to turn into the Grinch. “Boundaries are the most valuable decor you can add to make holiday time a holy time.”

    If my sole purpose as a Christ follower is to love God and love others, healthy boundaries are often the best expression of that love ( says a recovering enabler.). Thank you for the well-timed reminder. God’s richest blessings on you and your family! Hug Les for me 😉!

  5. Diann Milstead on November 22, 2018 at 10:45 am

    I totally agree with you! I never put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. It’s disrespecting there turkey and all this holiday represents!!!!! 😶

  6. Jeanny Laurie on November 22, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Wonderful lesson for today. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us and helping us move forward in love.

  7. Linda Collins on November 22, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Thank you Patsy! Because I work at a homeless shelter for young moms and their babies and because people are incredibly generous all year long and especially generous at this time of year, Christmas decorations and plans start early for us. This year, I bought myself a Christmas mug about a month ago, so when I drink my daily coffee-I’m in the Christmas spirit. Have fun decorating!

    • Tracey Wigans on November 22, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      Boundaries sure can be a blessing to all. Our big blended and oh so beautiful blended family (4 B’s-😁) started gathering last night. Since most boundaries have already been dinged or at least have a strong dent I am THANKFUL That the Holy Spirit will work overtime with me. Peace fills our space for now…
      God us soooo gooood. Your words always bless me Patsy. Bless you.

  8. Kelli Cooper on November 23, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Perfect timing. I truly needed this today. We set up our Christmas tree (at the request of our girls yesterday)- which ended in huge disappointment for me as my 12 year old REFUSED to let me put anything on the tree besides lights and balls. That’s it. Sigh. This too shall pass.

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