For every exasperated breath, let there be two minutes of uncontrollable laughter.
For every impatient “hurry up,” let there be one leisurely “take your time.”
For every worry about the condition of your home, let there be a friend who reminds you that your décor is not why you are loved.
For every grudge you’ve been holding, let there be one act of forgiveness.
For every complaint, let there be gratitude for two blessings.
For every minute spent holding an electronic device, let there be ten minutes holding a deck of cards, a musical instrument, or someone else’s hand.
For every duty checked off the list, let there be a spontaneous dance party in the kitchen or a snowball fight in the backyard.
For every new item brought into the home, let there be one offering of time, talent, money, or gently used item to a heart in need.
For every irritated thought towards a rude driver, let there be one smile offered to a stranger.
For every family squabble, let there be a group hug.
For every accidental spill, let there be an extra serving of grace.
For every moment spent ridiculing your body, let there be one praise for arms that carry the weight, no matter how heavy.
For every moment you give the gift of yourself to the ones you love, let there be a memory that lasts beyond your lifetime.
With open hands, open eyes, and an open heart, this holiday can be different than in year’s past.
Because now you know this day doesn’t have to be perfect—not even close.
This day is not about basting the perfect turkey … or getting the flawless family photo … or polishing the floors until they shine. This day is about gathering together with our messy, flawed human hearts in an effort to make happy memories that will outlive us all.
Whether you follow this recipe to a T or simply pick and choose the ingredients that work for you, there will be a noticeable difference.
For the first time in a long time, you will lay your head on the pillow at night and you will not replay that family spat … you will not wonder what you could have done to improve the cranberry sauce … your feet will not be throbbing because you never sat down.
Oh no, this time it will be different.
Because now you know you must let go of what doesn’t matter in order to grasp what does matter.
For the first time in a long time, you will lay your head on the pillow and say, “Today I tasted the sweetest part of life.”
And that messy, flawed heart beating inside you will feel peacefully and imperfectly full.
In order to grasp what matters most, we must let go of what doesn’t. Thank goodness, it’s never too late to try this life-changing recipe to taste the sweetest part of life.
My friends, holidays can be stressful. And for some of you, this particular holiday season is especially hard. Someone is missing. Circumstances have changed. Stress is high. But goodness is still here. As long as you are still breathing, goodness is still here. Using this recipe will increase your chances of experiencing these moments of goodness. Feel free to modify the recipe according to your circumstances. Even small efforts to show up “as is” and love “as is” can make a noticeable difference. Please share your stories, struggles, and plans to let go and live this holiday. Every time you comment, someone else feels a little less alone.
My friends, I am thankful for you. Words cannot express how grateful I am for your companionship on this journey … for loving me “as is”… and for encouraging my writer’s heart with your loving affirmations. May the sweetest aspect of life—to love and be loved—be experienced by you and your family this holiday season.
*The blog and The Hands Free Revolution page will be quiet for the remainder of the week as I spend time investing in what matters most. While I am away, be sure and check out Rebecca Eanes' enlightening and supportive page, Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. Rebecca is celebrating “a quarter of a million strong” community by having four days of giveaways of positive parenting books and resources. Included in the celebration are a Hands Free leather bracelet and a copy of my New York Times Bestseller, Hands Free Mama. I am grateful for Rebecca and the important work she does to help parents connect to their children!
In order to grasp what matters most, we must let go of what doesn’t. Amen. I’ve never heard it put so perfectly. xox
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, Lindsey. Coming from one of the most eloquent writers I know, I will tuck this loving comment away for safe-keeping. Have a blessed Thanksgiving. Grateful for your unending support.
Me either! I just posted this to my facebook page. Thank you for the reminder, Rachel~
I am posting this to my fb page as well. So many wonderful examples of how to be present. I love Rachel’s perspective.
Thank you for the words you put together so well. Your words remind me to take a breath, slow down, enjoy the moment..live in the now, hold tight the ones you love.
For this I thank you..Have a blessed Thanksgiving..
Thank you for your timely words. I am sitting down to enjoy my morning cup of coffee, reading the news, and catching up on Facebook. Looming over me is the to-do list I need to create and complete over the next three days which includes cleaning, shopping, cooking, and preparing to host family this week. Instead, I have just printed out your quote: “This day is not about basting the perfect turkey … or getting the flawless family photo … or polishing the floors until they shine. This day is about gathering together with our messy, flawed human hearts in an effort to make happy memories that will outlive us all.” I am going to hang it in my kitchen as a reminder to myself this week of what really matters. I will to strive to not feel the need to have everything look perfect on the outside to everyone, but rather to fill my heart with joy and gratitude for the time spent with family. My beautiful 7-year old daughter (who shares the name Rachel with you), gave me a blessing bracelet for my birthday yesterday. When I put it on today, I am going to be thankful that I was blessed with your words today. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Krysta Belliston says
Simply beautiful. Then again, when do you not write something inspiring? I love this and everything you stand for. I’m a new blogger (www.GreaterVista.com), and while feeling overwhelmed and re-thinking what matters most, I came across your page which put things back into perspective. Love you for that! -Krysta
Somehow, some way, every one (ok, maybe 99%) of your posts resonate so deeply and personally to me right at that moment in time…. Sometimes it’s as if you’re speaking the words right out of my head. Or you write something so poignant, that I think about it all week long…. Or, your words are amazing, graceful reminders of things we all know, but need to ACT upon…. So here I am, finally posting something in reply…. I haven’t before until now. Because this Thanksgiving post is way too incredibly perfect for me right now, and you’ve made me definitely feel less alone…. This is the first Thanksgiving I’m not attending the big family dinner…. I’ve wanted to volunteer on Thanksgiving for so many years, and now my kids are 6 and 9 and I feel like now is the time… As much as I know my parents and extended family will be upset, or rather, simply miss us at dinner, my husband and I want to do THIS instead. And want our kids to see a different kind of gratefulness by helping others… and I’m so excited. I’m usually very anxious at the big family gatherings. And oddly, I adore my family and always have, but my personality in big groups, I’ve come to realize over the years, does not do well…. Last year, I cried after we left b/c I couldn’t figure out WHY I feel this way every year, why does my stomach hurt, why am I not having a “good time” like everyone else…. It’s simply overwhelming for me. I like spending time with my family members in smaller, individual visits. So that’s what we’re doing this year. We’ll visit family on Friday and Saturday…. Thursday we’ll volunteer, and have a turkey with our close friends who spend every Thanksgiving alone b/c they don’t have family here…. And I’m so incredibly looking forward to this, more than any Thanksgiving I can remember in the past several years…. I get to just BE with my husband and our kids on this day, and then share a meal with friends, stress free. No stomach ache! No worry! No tears for me this year! So, thank you… as always for your posts…. your encouraging, uplifting, amazing posts. THANK YOU.
Thank you for this beautiful post and the reminder to slow down, and focus on what matters most. I am slowly making my way through your book and enjoying it so much. We are currently on a 15 hr trip up north with our 6, 3 and 1 year old and normally I turn into a mess – snapping at them, sometimes yelling and just plain don’t want to be with them. But so far this trip has been different…finding myself being extra patient with them, holding their hands and just listening to them when they need me. I’m thankful for His grace and strength, and for your inspiring words!
Rachel, I’m grateful for you! You’re an inspiration to many!
(…and I’ve been reminded to add one of your Hands Free bracelets to my wish list.)
Blessings to you and your family. Thank you for what you put out into this world.
Katherine Harper says
Thank you ever so much! Your message was perfect and just what I needed. Hoping that you will enjoy your precious family time and have a wonderful Thanksgiving too!
Christina Howell says
Tomorrow is never promised. Life has never been easy. Turmoil and trauma have intrusively overstayed in long seasons of life. However, with a determined heart, when I choose to make thanksliving a daily recipe, then the good is great and even the bitter ain’t that bad. 🙂
This was so beautiful. I am going to source this in my blog this week. Beautiful words!
Thank you for ministering through your words. God has gifted you and I appreciate you sharing. I will definitely pass this post on and will ponder these words long.
Thanks and gratitude for your words that remind me that my life with my family is more important than anything. Create good memories this holiday season.
This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing during a very busy week! Perfect reminder.
This is so perfectly perfect. And timely and perfect. Thank you for the reminder (exhaling).
Thank you for these words. I have been full of anxiety and out of control multitasking . I just sat down to breath.
I am speechless, yet my heart is overflowing with gratitude for you, a person I will never meet! Your writing has changed my life and my families life in countless ways. Thank you for giving me encouragement, forgiveness, unconditional love, hope, peace and self confidence. I talk about you and your blog to anyone who will listen! Thank you again for a soul stirring, heart warming, life changing post. ENJOY this Holiday Season and may you continue this work way beyond 2015. Sending you much love, peace and gratitude!
Rachel Stafford says
This means so much to me, Melissa!! I cherish words like this so much. You have fueled me to keep writing and keep sharing!
Angie Stevens says
I have been reading your posts for quite a few months now. They are a strong reminder for me to be a better mom everyday. I’ve had a hard journey the last 10 years and at some point I forgot the mom I wanted to be and became short tempered, very stressed, busy and so burdened with things that just didn’t matter. I’m working hard on turning my life around so I can be an awesome mom for my 4 young boys and 4 step kids (3 girls and 1 boy). That moment when my children mess up and look at me with worry waiting for a tongue lashing and instead get grace and love has been worth every second of hard change in me! Thank you for sharing your heart because it’s changed mine:)
Rachel Stafford says
I am grateful to share this journey with you, Angie! Thank you for letting me know my words have made a difference!
Ansley Wolfe-Nelson says
I am not sure if it is alright for me to post here,as I am not a mother.I am,however,a child of a woman who also slowed down to my pace when I was very young.And I can tell you,from personal experience,that it is the best way to raise any child.Both my father and mother often say “I love you best at whatever age you are,all of the time in your life is my favorite.”,and other things like that.They both raised me to live in the moment,to enjoy the feeling of the rain on your skin or the sun on your face.And I have grown up into a straight A college student,I am going there to perfect my craft as a writer.And it was all because a woman like you stopped to smell the roses with their child as often as possible.My mother passed this August,but I wanted you to know that as a mother you are doing a wonderful job.Your children will thank you.
Rachel Stafford says
I am so grateful for your comment — a beautiful confirmation of the importance of slowing down to live and love. I am also grateful for your kind words about me as a mother. I will hold it close to my heart. I am deeply sorry for your loss. What a treasure your mother was to this world.
Rachel, is it okay if I post this in the recipe section of our next MOPS newsletter???
Rachel Stafford says
Hi Melissa, yes. If you would be so kind to mention my name, blog, and book in the post, I would be grateful so readers know where to find more inspiration.
Thank you so much, I loved every word you wrote and will share the good words so everyone will benefit from your words.
Hola no se hablar en ingles por que soy uruguaya pero me gustaria poder comunicarme contigo para contarte mi experiencia y que me ayudes desde ya muchas gracias saludos
Thank you. This could not have come at a better time.
Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I really appreciated this reminder! We spent a sweet Thanksgiving together as our little family–my favorite part was going on a walk right before sunset and just talking with my husband and laughing as our almost two-year-old daughter chattered away with such joy. (The food was good too but it was just so good to be together!) Thanks again…
Barbara Lane says
Thanks for such an encouraging post!
I wanted to thank you for sharing such a great article about the importance of yelling. I love my precious babies..how could I yell at them?? For things that really aren’t that important and you said it perfectly…made me cry! I try so hard to be a calm patient mom but I know sometimes the enemy will do whatever he can to get in our way of bring a better person,mom,wife… Thanks again and God bless! I’m sure you are an amazing mother!!
Eileen Floody says
Thank you so much for this Thanksgiving Recipe. You would think that by my age of 78, I would know all this but I find that I have so much to learn. I’m keeping this recipe close at hand and sharing it with everyone I know. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!!
[…] Hopefully you’re having a lovely day with your family. But if you’re feeling a little frazzled right now, I recommend taking just a few minutes to read this Live More, Love More Thanksgiving Recipe at Hands Free Mama. […]
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