Setting A Place for Contentment at Your Thanksgiving Table

By Jessica Wolstenholm

Here’s the thing – Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday, but cooking is not my spiritual gift. I will confess it here for the world to know – when my husband and I were dating, I once made him a salad with a head of cabbage instead of lettuce. In our 15 years of marriage, he’s never once asked me to make him a salad again.

On the revelation that I wasn’t going to be a stellar chef, I chose gratitude for those who can cook and settled in on being content in my ability to order a feast of a Thanksgiving Dinner from Cracker Barrel. I’ve perfected the art of ordering just the right amount of food that also leaves leftovers for days. I also purchased an adorable apron from Anthropologie, and for authenticity’s sake, I wear it from the time we wake up on Thanksgiving Day, through all the parade watching and board games, and even setting the table with plenty of hash brown casserole, turkey, and pumpkin pie. When the house is quiet, and the last dish is done, I finally take it off and hang it up, knowing this is the best way for our family to do Thanksgiving.

I’ve found strength in knowing my limitations. I found contentment in not being the girl at Kroger with a long list. Because let’s be honest – that grocery trip would be done with my mom on speed dial and lots of questions about where to find the $10 spice that I don’t have and only need a “dash” of anyway.  Owning my ineptitude in this regard was easy and thankfully my family plays along – possibly because they’re guaranteed a decent dinner when we opt for take-out on a day that is centered around food.

Choosing contentment here was easy because who doesn’t love Cracker Barrel? And I found a fix, right? When slaying the meal wasn’t in the cards for me, I found a way to make the day imperfectly-perfect. But what about the things I can’t fix? What about the areas of life where it’s not as easy as throwing on an apron and pulling a homemade meal out of brown paper bag?

In the spirit of transparency, and since I have already owned up to some really big failures here, I will go a bit deeper … when we sit down at our Thanksgiving table this year and thank the Lord for our blessings, I will have more things to be grateful for than I can even list. Still, there are a couple prayers that have been burning deep in my heart, year after year, that He has yet to answer. I promise you, those unanswered prayers come to the top of my mind far more often than a moment of pure gratefulness for all I’ve been given.

If gratitude is spun out of an appreciative and thankful heart, then contentment rests in the satisfaction that what we have is enough – even if it doesn’t feel that way. The empty ache that comes from a place of desire can be filled up with lots of “things” that are temporary and never satisfy. Leaning into the ache, the pain of imperfection, the yearning of prayers still unanswered, as Christians, should lead us right to the feet of Jesus. What better place to spend Thanksgiving Day than taking Him a grateful spirit and an honest prayer inviting Him to be in the longing of our heart.

While our Thanksgiving tables may all look differently this year, we can all choose to set a place for contentment. We can rest in the gift of not having our fill and allowing Jesus alone to satisfy the craving of our hearts. Because He is better than any feast we can conjure up – even from Cracker Barrel!


“How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house: you give drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light, we see light.” (Psalm 36:7-9)