Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

I started this a week ago . . . between the long Thanksgiving weekend and PMS, blogging just didn't make my list.

We are purists around here. No Christmas music, lights, or decorations until after Thanksgiving. We consider--and celebrate--Thanksgiving as a real, bonafide holiday of it's own rather than as a fattening meal between Halloween and Christmas. Who wants to miss out on this wonderfully easy, peaceful holiday that focuses on gratitude? Not me. In my mind, Thanksgiving is the perfect segue into the Christmas season. (I have a post  from last week on Deseret News about this very thing: THANKS and GIVING. I hope you'll read it. I LOVE the story.) Before my kids get too wrapped up in thinking about all the stuff they want for Christmas, I like to use Thanksgiving to set the stage by helping them see how much they already have and also think of ways to give in the coming weeks. Perfect, right?

Our traditions are so simple, but go a long way. Some night early in November we draw our Thanksgiving tree on a big piece of poster board I pick up from the grocery store and cut out a bunch of fall colored leaves from construction paper or card stock. Throughout the month we take some time in the evenings whenever we can to go around and say what we're thankful for, writing them down on the leaves and taping them to our tree. We keep this in front of the fireplace with the school made Thanksgiving decorations taped all around and a little pile of Thanksgiving books nearby. (Molly's Pilgrim is my all time favorite.) That's it!

The key is not to censor what makes it onto the tree, though I do reserve the right to ask why someone is grateful for something like intestines. (Among other things.) Here's what made the grateful list this year. (A few of these belong to my bro-in-law, Brent, and his girlfriend, Camille, who came to dinner one Sunday night.)

Good smells
Round leaves
Cultures of the world
Good movies
Creative writing
Dinner parties
Pumpkins, pinecones, & candles
Video games
Peanut butter
The sun
Being born at the end of the 20th century
Scientific theories
Napolean, Nacho & Kip
Honeycrisp apples
Not having kidney stones
Books, letters & language
Life & God
Daddy's happy heart
Little fishes
Japan & Japanese food
The letter B
Mom & Dad
Buttons (electronic)
Old guys
and . . . .
Technology (that was mine, and you do have to sing it like Kip)

Do a Thanksgiving Tree next year. It's so fun!
And while I have fond memories of my sisters and I serving food to the homeless at the mall on Thanksgiving evening when I was a teenager, our family isn't really there yet and I haven't found another good way to "give" on Thanksgiving day, which is once again why I say it's a perfect segue into Christmas. Christmas is when we have our giving traditions already in place.

This is what our Thanksgiving holiday looked like:

Wednesday--Dad's day with the kids (BYU Bookstore and Jump On It--indoor trampoline place) while I caught up on computer work and Christmas photo gifts. I do love making photo books as gifts through Shutterfly, but I've found the only advantage to them over the "real" scrapbooks is that there's no mess. They take just as much time in my experience. (But that may be because I'm a perfectionist in the virtual world, and only in the virtual world. You should see my linen closet.)

Thanksgiving morning I made Elaine Tuba's simple and scrumptious "Corn Casserole" before heading over the river and through the woods to Aunt Marsha and Uncle Don's house. (Elizabeth can't get enough of the "corn casserole" as she calls it, eating the leftovers for breakfast the next day.) Uncle Don is Brandon's Dad's younger brother, and 8 of their 10 kids were in attendance with their families. Throw in our family, Aunt Marsha's sister and father, and that makes 42 people!

This is exactly where I last saw Uncle Don a year ago:
 The 4-year-old table:

The tween to teen table. (That's Will covering his head.)
Three more long tables for the restivus:
Even after running two miles in the morning and taking two good walks after dinner, I was still up on the scale the next morning:
I made my best effort to eat all of this pie, but it was no use:

Friday we did what we always do: Black Friday shopping. We went Christmas tree hunting:

It has to be at least as tall as the stick to cut down:

A Charlie Brown tree:
Tree sap:
This is the one!
Removing the loose needles:

I never tire of looking at these mountains:

Another Charlie Brown tree:

We started going to Claim Jumper after tree hunting in California, but the next best thing close to us here in Utah is Texas Roadhouse where I'm quite certain I did more damage to my waistline than even Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday was more Christmas decorating. Kate had the idea of gathering all our Santas together and lining them up in size order. I don't know who took these pictures:

The house was a mess for two days while we put everything in place:
The Christmas picture books are always a favorite:

Last but not least, we went to see the holiday lights at Thanksgiving Point.  

Not a bad kick off to the holiday season!  (More on Eat Like A Pilgrim later.) Life sure does seem picture perfect in the blogging world. You should try it. It does wonders. (Especially if you have PMS.)

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