Good afternoon friends! I hope nobody will be bummed that this post involves no candy canes, pine, or other Christmassy things. I’m just not ready for that yet! I am still at Thanksgiving, counting my blessings with this bouquet of thanks I made for my family’s living room centerpiece.
When I think of Thanksgiving, of course I reflect some on the historical aspect of it, how Native Americans shared their bounty and taught Europeans the life-giving skills they used to survive. Whether some people were invited or not, and in the face of the tensions that existed at that time and afterwards, they celebrated together.
More so, though, I tend to think of what Thanksgiving has looked like for me and my family and how it evolves a little every year. When I was younger, great uncles sat by my grandmother, dad, mom, aunt, cousin, and brother. The turkey that grandma killed that morning and cooked all afternoon was the centerpiece of our table and was circled by big dishes full of mashed potatoes, green beans, cooked carrots, pumpkin pie, and oyster stuffing (that I did not like at the time). One year, I am a bit embarrassed to admit, I wore this navy, button down skirt that, in my 9-year-old eyes, looked like a “Pilgrim skirt”. Another year, my brother and I got in trouble for shaving our legs and were put in timeout until dinner. These are my earliest memories of Thanksgiving.
Then Grandma Hazel passed away, and Thanksgiving dinner was held at my aunt’s house. Pinterest happened…and we have lots of great cooks in my family, so the food was still great. The oyster-stuffing recipe got passed to my aunt, and lo and behold, I learned to like the stuff. Three fluffy, white Maltese puppies and my husband were added to the mix. And several more Thanksgivings passed in this way that we all got to know and love.
This year, my mom, dad, cousin, and I woke up in a house in New Orleans, walked down the street to a coffee shop for breakfast, and watched Jeopardy and part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. A few days before Thanksgiving, we toured the city and did fun touristy things like a steamboat cruise on the Mississippi River, a visit to the aquarium (I petted a stingray! :D), and a lot of sampling the local cuisine.
For dinner on Thanksgiving Day, though, we went to a Cracker Barrel and all ordered the turkey dinner and fixings special. I think all of us felt a little guilty and disappointed with our dinner, especially when family back in West Virginia sent pictures of their plates, full of delicious homemade food that had taken all day to prepare. I thought about this little bit of disheartenment of mine and then about all of New Orleans’ homeless we had passed on the streets just days before. Where were they while I was being disappointed with my Cracker Barrel dinner? Did they have any dinner? What would they have said they were thankful for? If they could name bits of their lives they were thankful for, how much more humble would their answers have been than mine, since I have so many blessings, many of which I forget to count?
This Thanksgiving, more than any other I think, I am more grateful after spending it in New Orleans. Yes, there were only four of us this time, not eight; dinner wasn’t homemade; we were surrounded by bayous and colorful shotgun houses, not naked trees and windswept mountains. But we all had our health, good food, more than enough money, each other, clothes that we wear for style and not just to cover nakedness, shelter…too many blessings to count.
And that’s what this bouquet of thanks was all about—getting those blessings down on paper and putting them front and center so we didn’t forget. I’m going to sound bratty for a second and say that vacations can be stressful, especially when you are the “tour guide”. Once, at a restaurant I recommended, someone’s sausage tasted terrible and the pancakes weren’t cooked through. Or shopping wasn’t what everyone in the group wanted to do. Then I’d be aggravated that someone was mad or that I couldn’t please everyone. But at the end of the day, we came back to the house and all ended up around the bouquet of thanks; and whether we were watching TV, working on homework, or talking about the day it was there reminding us that all our complaints were petty when viewed beside all we had to appreciate.
So, as Christmas carols chime all around me, peppermint becomes the new pumpkin spice, and Wal-Mart explodes with “holiday” cheer, I think I might just stay here for awhile because I think we miss something in the season of giving if we don’t fully celebrate the season of thanks.
- floral wire
- a bouquet of real or faux flowers
- miniature wooden clothespins
- 2×2 in. squares of bright scrapbook paper or card stock
- a pen
How to make it:
- First, stick one end of the floral wire through the hole that makes up part of the metal spring. Use this as an anchor point, and wrap the wire around one side of the clothespin about 5 times.
- Then, begin wrapping the other end of the wire around 2 of your fingers till you reach the clothespin.
- Now, pull this coil of wire apart so that it looks wavy all along its length, then curl this wire around the stem of one of your flowers, beginning at the bottom and working your way to the top. *You might have to straighten the end that goes down in the vase so it will stay put.
- Repeat this as many times as you want so you have a whole bunch of clothespin-topped wires to add to a bouquet of flowers.
- Now cut or tear scrapbook paper into 2×2 in. squares. (You could vary the size of this depending on your preference. It would also be cute to cut out leaf or circle shapes instead of squares.) Give one or a few papers to members of your family or friends, and have them write or draw pictures of as many blessings as they can fit on each square. The more, the better! They can also use the backs of their squares if they run out of room. 🙂
** As I disassembled my bouquet of thanks when we left New Orleans, I thought of how often I forget to be thankful and how this could be a great visual reminder, year round, of blessings at each week. This way, instead of just saying I am thankful for family or for the direction my career is going, I can list out specifics that I might forget at Thanksgiving a year after the fact.
**Also, you could leave this up in any seasonal bouquet and customize it to the upcoming holiday. For Christmas, wrap them around some poinsettias and clip in photos of family members. For Easter, put them in some lilies and clip in pictures that your kids draw of the Easter story. For everyday, put that dried bouquet of roses you’ve been saving from Valentine’s Day in a vase and clip in honey-do notes or words of encouragement for your family. If you find an interesting use for them or a different way of making them, let me know!