November 14, 2018
Home for the Holidays…
Most of us already have our “ways” of doing Thanksgiving – ways our mother did it, ways our extended family did it, ways our neighborhood did it. Thanksgiving doesn’t lend itself well to trying out new things, but sometimes the situation calls for new decisions – you can’t make it home for Thanksgiving, for example, or you have kids now and want to start traditions of your own. So, what can you do to heighten, deepen, and extend Thanksgiving to its most memorable end?
We dug through reader comments over the years and pulled out 10 Thanksgiving traditions worth stealing.
1. Start the day with an indulgent, relaxing breakfast.
While some people are firmly in the “no breakfast” camp to save room for the big meal later, we love the idea of starting the day in such a festive, delicious way! Pancakes, waffles, eggs, even pie – it’s all good.
“We always go to an annual pie breakfast my mom’s friend has at her lovely home! I made a golden raisin pie with a lattice crust this year.”
“A little ‘treat-your-self’ the morning of the big day is perfect. I usually make myself toasted croissants and scrambled eggs on Thanksgiving morning, but pumpkin pie is a really good idea. If you do a little googling around, there’s a recipe for something called a “pumpkin pie breakfast bake” that’s also a good option to scratch that pumpkin pie itch.”
“Every year a friend hosts a Dude, Where’s My Turkey? breakfast party. Everyone gathers around 9 a.m. to eat waffles and eggs and drink mimosas before caravanning to the New Orleans racetrack for the opening day races/celebration with everyone else in town. A ton of fun!”
“My family always makes a big breakfast, knowing that we are going to stuff our faces later that day – but we ‘burn it off’ by taking a hike in the woods behind our home or shivering at the high school football game!”
2. Take time for yourself before time with family.
As wonderful as Thanksgiving can be, we all know it can be exhausting and overwhelming. That’s why it’s such a good idea to deliberately take a little time for yourself during the day to make sure you enjoy the holiday on your terms.
“My best friend and I started the tradition of an early nature walk with her children (twins) on Thanksgiving morning before we go to our family Thanksgivings. The twins were wheeled through the paths when they were one; they will be six this year. It’s a healthy tradition that gives us wonderful memories each year.”
“I have always helped my mom first thing in the morning to prep the bird and make the stuffing before going back home for coffee, breakfast, and the parade on in the background. My husband and I enjoy spending the lazy morning at our house before joining my sisters and their families at my mom’s house. This year it will be more special given that we have a 9-month-old daughter to keep us company.”
“My Thanksgiving morning ritual is to make myself a good, strong cup of black coffee and start making pumpkin pie. Pie baking is something that always grounds me and makes me feel relaxed. And whether I’m making the entire feast or just dessert, it’s something I need to make it really Thanksgiving. Once I have pie going, I know everything else will be just fine. Breakfast proper happens once I have pie in the oven.”
3. Remember loved ones who have passed.
Holidays can be bittersweet when beloved family members or friends are missing from the gathering. This “circle of love” is a lovely way to honor their memory.
“The most important part of Thanksgiving for my family is what we call the Circle of Love. We hold hands in a ‘circle’ of sorts (we usually have about 50 people so we’re really winding through several rooms) and say a prayer. We remember family members who have passed on and anyone can chime in with a prayer or thanks.”
4. Write your thanks on a butcher paper tablecloth.
We love the practice during the Thanksgiving meal of naming things you’re thankful for, and this is a unique way to do it – especially since you can tear off and save particularly meaningful memories.
“My family covers the table with butcher paper. During the meal, pens are distributed, and each family member writes down a few things they’re thankful for on the paper. We then go around reading our words of gratitude. It’s fun to keep the scribbles, or sometimes we just take pictures of the pieces of paper.”
5. Let everyone toast!
Another way to make gratitude gushing even more festive is to let everyone make a toast. Raise your glass to the year, to your family, to your friends!
“Our family makes toasts for what they are thankful for over the past year during the meal. No one can leave the table until everyone has made a toast. It slows everything down and truly grabs the spirit of the day.”
6. Have the kids serve dessert.
We know how much toddlers love to help, but bigger kids can get in on the action, too! Put them in charge of serving dessert and coffee after the meal.
“When we were kids, we always had to help with dessert! We didn’t make it, but we did cut the pie, plate it, scoop the ice cream or whipped cream, and serve coffee. It was fun to “take orders” for dessert (which kind of pie, ice cream or whipped cream, coffee or tea) and it kept us kids busy after dinner while the adults talked. As the oldest, I plated and poured, and the younger kids served.”
7. Have Thanksgiving dinner for dinner.
Most people eat Thanksgiving in the early afternoon, but that is not a hard-and-fast rule. Why not make Thanksgiving dinner just that – a dinner? As this reader says, it slows the day down and makes the morning and afternoon much more enjoyable.
“In my family we have Thanksgiving dinner at a slightly early dinner time – 5:30 or 6 p.m. rather than 7 or 8 p.m., when we would eat a normal dinner. Everyone comes over in the afternoon and watches football, we all help cook and set up, and just hang out. There are light snacks to graze on all day, so nobody is starving and rushing through the meal. We linger over the meal for a while, play a board game usually, and have dessert later in the evening.”
8. Take a long walk together after dinner.
No one is ready for dessert right after dinner anyway, so why not take that time to go on a long walk with your loved ones? Enjoy the (hopefully) cool, crispy autumn weather and get the blood flowing again after all that rich food.
“After dinner, we all go on a walk together (we used to go on a hay ride when my parents had a tractor) and then have hot cider and dessert when we return.”
“One tradition we have – which might not work if you’re socked in a blizzard, of course – is after dinner, once the food’s put away, we all go take a nice, long walk. Then when we get back, we do dessert.”
“We’ve been known to take post-dinner walks (glass of wine in hand) to say hello to the neighbors and just enjoy the weather if it is nice.”
9. If it’s just two of you, really treat yourselves.
It can be hard to justify making a huge Thanksgiving meal when it’s just two of you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less special, or even any less of a treat. In fact, it should be more so. Embrace the opportunity.
“My fiancé and I have celebrated Thanksgiving just the two of us for three of the last four years. We both love to cook and bake, so we’ve taken it as an opportunity to treat ourselves and make a very traditional meal. For us, it has been a great opportunity to spend time together and build traditions that will be for us, instead of trying to fit into each other’s family traditions. We try to make it special by treating ourselves to nicer ingredients and better wine than we would normally use if we were cooking for six to 10 people (this year we’ll have two bottles of beer that we’ve been aging). But what’s really special for us is that we get to spend the entire day together doing something we love with no work or friends expecting our attention.”
10. Stay connected with family members far away.
If you’re not close to your loved ones during Thanksgiving, thankfully you can still be together – just virtually! Do a video call before dinner, or Facetime family members in for the giving-thanks portion of the evening. Make it an annual thing.
“Why not start a tradition of a Google Hangout (or any conference) with any loved ones who can’t be present at the big family dinner? Coordinate your mealtimes if possible, say grace together, share thankfulness, etc. We have so many options today to create a sense of togetherness!”
Article Courtesy of “Kitchn”
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Fall Mantle Decor
Fall Mantle Decor – Celebrate the Harvest
The winter holidays may be fast approaching, but we can give thanks for the harvest season with these fall decor ideas.
Between the frightening fun of Halloween and the cozy, candied Christmas seasons, it’s easy to lose the best season of the year: Autumn. Thanksgiving is the culmination of the fall season where we celebrate all those small strokes of luck and big blessings that we’ve been fortunate to receive. All too often this decor gets lost between October holidays and the New Year’s Eve parties. Let’s bring back a bit of fall to the fireplace area and tabletops.

Turn into fall
Transition is a main theme of the fall season. In the agricultural days, the fall season was for reaping the crops and storing food. The work changes and there is more time to spend with family and friends. “Transitional style” in interior design refers to blending contemporary furniture and fabrics with traditional shapes and lines. Tans and shades of white dominate this kind of modern-farmhouse look. Fall mantle decor can take a hint from Transitional style by combining modern materials like craft-foam-and-moss topiaries with containers made of classic metals or ceramics. Keep the colors in the autumn color ranges, with golden yellows, oranges, deep reds, greens and browns. Because a Transitional style lacks a lot of color, some bright fall leaf hues will go a long way. Varying textures are a way to introduce interest to a limited color palette.
Simple abundance
You don’t need to go big to celebrate the abundance of the harvest. A few candles and a leaf garland on the mantle will signal the season’s care message of simple living and grateful gathering. Alternatively, a mantle stuffed full of fall swag can be gorgeous. Cornucopias full of faux fruit, pine cone crafts and pumpkins (not just for Halloween!) make for a mantle of plenty. If fruit and veggies, faux-or-real, aren’t your thing, you can fill vases with raw wheat stalks or goldenrod and scatter fall leaves around their bases. Leaves and acorns make great fillers and they are easily collected by kids and adults.
Personal treasures
If you are hosting gatherings over the course of the fall season, consider making a mantle of memories. Search through your storage for personal pictures, rusty flea-market finds, and grandma’s lace to create an especially welcoming scene for family and friends. Call up cousins to ask to use an ancestral photo for a few weeks. Print grandma’s recipes on beautiful cards and place them in small frames along the mantle. Creatively displaying the best parts of your pasts will help you and your guests look optimistically into the future.
Grab the golden days
Make sure to recognize the fall season. Let’s not be rushed into welcoming Old Man Winter before he’s due. The colors, aromas and crunchy leaf sounds of the autumn season are to be enjoyed and celebrated. Start building up your autumn decor collection, and you’ll never feel like the fall fun is over before it began.
Published: November 14, 2017 – EP Henry

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