As we are about to enter into the busiest travel week of the year, it is interesting to put some thought into why it is so? Why do we feel that pull to brave the crowded airports, the clogged highways and travel “over the river and through the woods?” Whether it be to grandmothers house or not, the end destination is typically one filled with people who you gather with year after year to celebrate Thanksgiving. That gathering might look different from one household to another but we can be assured that it is filled with laughter, jokes, a football game or two, loved ones and a table set with an abundant meal if we are blessed and fortunate enough. We break bread together, we rib each other, we are comfortable with each other. We sometimes find ourselves at the opposite ends of the table when it comes to politics or social discussion but come together again when we say our prayer of thanksgiving. We are different, we are alike, we all love, we all feel, we all need human companionship and gathering…even more so in this world where differences have never been felt more greatly. To come together regardless of any of that is powerful stuff, stuff that heals us, makes us feel a part of a greater something. It forces us to take the time to be together and to be thankful together…powerful stuff indeed and we heed the calling to make it happen. So as you enter into this week, put some thought into your celebration, your preparation, try to be mindful as you scurry about in all of the preparation, picking out your menu, or deciding what you can bring to your gathering if you are not hosting. Involve your kids if you have them. Take some time that you think you do not have to take part in something that both propels this holiday forward and ignites your spirit.
“What do you mean by that,” you ask? Just as our gathering might look very different from one another so too might this. For me, this year, it meant sitting in a mostly comatose state upon arriving home from a wonderful but exhausting overnight trip up and back to Boston for my son’s audition to Berklee College in which I ended the trip leaving my wallet in the cab as I arrived at the airport to board my flight home. I have not lost my wallet once in all the years I have been on this earth, let alone left it somewhere. I have to mention that this trip followed an insane week of post barn sale follow up and business, reorders, shooting the photos for this Blog post after styling it, a quick trip to NYC and back, my youngest sons play, baking for both this and my daughter who I was seeing in NYC. I will not bore you with the frantic details but I can just say, that after making the last flight for the night, after chasing one route after another to find the cab that pulled away with the wallet sitting on the seat, to no avail, the security shenanigans to get on that flight, the winds that kicked up right as the flight was about to land causing turbulence that almost propelled an already “sick stomach” that was created by running through all the scenarios in my mind of how I was going to cancel all of the credit cards, get a new license or create a new identity after mine had been stolen… to really roll over. Upon landing safely and uttering another prayer, my phone messages loaded that had built up during my brief one hour flight. The most joyous one I heard first was from the hotel in which I had stayed and taken the cab to the airport from, “Mrs. Veno, your wallet was just dropped off at the hotel by the man who was driving your cab and dropped you at the airport and he counted the $86 that was inside, the credit cards and your license and we have it here for you to pick up.” HE RETURNED IT? as I had left it? That message made me change the path in which this post was going to go so my apologies for those who wanted just pretty pictures instead of a mouthful of Meg’s prose. The sense of relief as the stress left my body was palpable. The feeling that there are still honest to goodness “good” strangers out there, who really want to work with each other and not take away, was overwhelming. Once home, after working out how I was going to get the wallet back and walking through the house with flashlight in hand to assure my 15 year old son and his cousin that no one was in the house and that the noises that we were hearing were being caused by the large shutters being blown shut across the windows, I then sat comatose on my bed, computer in hand for my goal was to write this “pretty” post. No could do…I turned on the TV, flipped through the channels and settled on Free Birds, a claymation mindless kids movie that chronicles the journey of a flock of turkeys before Thanksgiving. I am sure you all know where that pot is going… turkeys… Thanksgiving… Voiced by Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, its fluff and fantasy land pulled me in and the blog had to wait. My mushy mind wandered as my thoughts turned to the innocence of the movie, the message of family, even if they are not blood kin and having each others back. To sleep I drifted, waking many times during the night as I often do when some of the members of the household are missing for my hubby and oldest son were away together and the wind was a whipping.
I arose Sunday am feeling refreshed even though sleep was fleeting and began this post. The innocence of the movie was still with me and brought back memories of the days when the kids were younger and we watched holiday movies together. They delighted in the anticipation of leaving for Babci’s or heading to Mum Peg and Skip Pops (their grandparents) where we would celebrate and GATHER together as family. Those memories pulled my attention away from this blog to a box of the kids Thanksgiving artwork chewed by mice in the artist studio loft…I save everything. I climbed the ladder and brought down the box and lovingly took out each piece, one by one as memories flooded back. I taped to the window, the ones that were not too worn or chewed through as I used to when they were young. I found their lists of what they were thankful for twenty years ago which had so much meaning now as my second to the youngest stands on the precipice of his future as he applies to college. I set up a kids table to shoot and include in the blog even though we no longer have any kids at our Thanksgiving gathering with my inlaws. After the events of the trip and the movie, I was igniting my spirit by bringing back parts of our holiday that I had discarded due to lack of time, prioritization and the age of the kids. Why could they not look upon what they had once written or created as children and learn from it or just enjoy it? Call it nostalgia if you will but whatever it may be, it felt good.
Once finished with that, it was back to the blog I went to be cut short by the howling wind outside that reminded me that the little goats needed to be brought into the barn today from the island for winter was hitting and they head indoors when the cold weather comes a calling. In years past, they followed their “mama” the big goat who they had imprinted on upon arriving here as babies. We sadly had to put him down this year after a stroke so they were very cautious and tentative heading over the bridge without their leader but they followed us and we got them into the barn all bedded down with nice warm straw and hay. Inside we headed to warm up a bit only to soon see one of the goats run past the kitchen window and back onto the island from whence he just came. The other one was nowhere to be found. Forty minutes later we found him in front of the the big non-animal stone barn and we think he was hiding inside being that he is afraid of the dogs. Back to the island we took him for obviously they were having nothing to do with going in the little barn before nightfall. Wow! Time flies and once finished with the shenanigans of the goats it was time to leave for a special friend’s birthday party. Once back home, back to the post I turned, of which I am still writing at almost 1 am. Life takes you in all sorts of directions in which we do not plan…from small, pain in the neck cannot finish what I had intended to, to more serious I really had not planned on things turning out like this paths, to life altering paths. The GATHERING that we do at the holidays, along with its preparations gives us security, stability and a sense of continuity in a very changing world, both internally and externally. Tradition calls and its siren is strong. Along with the other attributes I mentioned at the beginning of this post, gathering is one of the most important aspects of life in my opinion. As you head on the road to gather this season may you be strengthened, inspired and renewed. Don’t let the little things bother you for in the grand scheme of this world, they are nothing, they mean nothing and they should warrant none of our time and energy.
In closing, I leave you with the pretty pictures that hopefully will inspire you to create a little more beauty in an already beautiful traditional holiday.
Create a pretty banner that you can hang from jute roping strung in the room you eat in. Each guest can write what they are thankful for on a flag. You can either cut your flags out of burlap or use an already cut kit from Target’s Dollar section and flip over the printed flags to write your own messages.
Use clothespins to hang
Set your table with some of your favorite things that reflect the season.
Take out your best china or collections for they are not getting any younger and should be enjoyed. Think of creative ways to present them.
On or off a table cloth. This is a little tip if you have a large crowd and are butting tables up together to get one long one. If you want to cover the seams and the transition of one table to another, pick up a cream drop cloth at your hardware store in 15 feet lengths. Wash and dry in your washing machine and dryer and viola, you have a natural looking cloth of a very long length.
Layer your dishes and mix them up. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns or colors!
Bake mini loaves of bread, wrap and add a tag for each guest to take home with them. Mark your guests places with cute tags.
Send guests home with leftovers in these adorable bags that I picked up again in the Dollar section of Target. You can also make your own with a pretty stamp and a handwritten “Thanksgiving Leftovers for:”
You can make these adorable little favors for the kids at the table with cream colored crepe paper, autumn colored M & M’s and the fingers of clear rubber gloves. Cut the finger off, fill with the candy and cut 4 or more husks out of crepe paper and then wrap them around the top of the finger in the glove after pinching the glove top shut. Tie together with a thin piece of jute or a string from the burlap.
Use one at each place setting for the kids and pair with a leaf shape that you have cut out of Kraft paper. Write, “I am thankful for…” in a metallic permanent marker and let the kids fill them in with crayons or the markers that you leave out at the table.
Cut out Kraft paper squares for a “placemat” at each place. The name of each child can be written at the top of each square in a metallic paint pen. Add some whimsical decorations like these vintage paper and crepe paper fold outs. My Kraft paper squares are actually the backs of my large calendar pages that hang in my office. Remember I said I do not throw anything out? I was not kidding! Roll them up as you tear them out and keep in a cute bucket and use for coloring, lists or whatever you can think of!
You can also pick up cute place markers in various places. These I picked up at the Pottery Barn Outlet a few years back and you use chalk to write the names on them.
These are paper pumpkin napkin rings that again I picked up a few years back. I always keep a stash of these kinds of decorative flourishes in my holiday bins that I take out when I do not have time to make something.
Just keep in mind that, there is always something to be thankful for!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOURS!