Giving Thanks

by Gladys Hanning

Thanksgiving was a big event in our home growing up, full of tradition and family. It also seems to be a time of reflection. I’ve been thinking a lot these days of how much I have to be thankful for–I feel blessed to live in a comfortable home where I’m surrounded by farming county, good neighbors, a wonderful family, and good health. For these and so many other blessings I am grateful beyond measure. It’s easy in the busy lives of everyday living to get distracted with the razzamatazz and forget about these things and to take what is truly special and meaningful for granted.

Thanksgiving holds wonderful memories for me, as I’m sure it does for many of you. When I was a child, my mom would spend several days making preparations for the family feast–carefully shopping for the ingredients that would go into the delicious meal she would create from scratch. I remember family gatherings with my grandparents and cousins. Every year the menu was the same: Roasted Turkey, potatoes and gravy with sausage stuffing, sweet potatoes with orange juice and cloves and lots and lots of marshmallows, fruit salad with walnuts, homemade rolls, and the much anticipated home-cooked apple and pumpkin pie.

On Thanksgiving morning my sister and I would wake up to the early smells of the turkey roasting and excited to watch “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” this was such a treat for us! My Dad prepared the nut bowl that marked the beginning of the holiday season where it was placed in its spot on the living room coffee table. A big bowl full of a festive collection of Hazelnuts, Pecans, Brazil, and Walnuts. The Walnuts were my favorite, in their big tan shells, it was a fun to open them. Positioning one perfectly in the nutcracker, its teeth gripping the walnut’s seam. A squeeze, a startling snap, and the shell split in two. Of course Mom would warn my sister and me not to eat too many or you’ll spoil your appetite! She was right!!

When I was growing up, Christmas was but a distant thought until after the turkey sandwiches had long overstayed their welcome. So for me, Thanksgiving has always held a special place in my heart.

Now I carry on the tradition of making Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends. My sister, Jan and her family having been coming to our home for Thanksgiving even before I knew how to cook, and there have been times when college friends of my girls, nieces and nephew will also gather around our dining room table, we can always make room for a few more! Our day is fully enjoyed. We are present and not worrying about the “next” holidays that are coming. As, there will be plenty of time to honor those days too! As the turkey is in the oven, children will string cranberries to decorate the grand bird once it is served. For several years, my niece, Tera, organizes a craft for the kids. We laugh and play games with the little ones, and on occasion my niece, Reilly, and nephew, Shannon, will sing and play music for us. After dinner, we may play a board game or watch a fun movie. It’s complete contentment that I cherish most of all. My table is always open, it’s a tradition that I maintain for my own family holidays. Those special occasions shared with family and friends are the ones that I remember most.

I’m so happy our family embraces this season of plenty and honors this day of thankfulness. As the dining room table is set with freshly laundered linens, sparkling crystal, and gleaming china. The silver shines, a gift from my husband’s Grandma, the candles glow, and the table is decorated with pumpkins , acorns, and fallen leaves. I want to hold fast to this moment, my heart is full, when conversation, companionship transform the rooms of our beloved home.

I hope that you will be able to share this Thanksgiving with an abundance of family and friends who matter most and give simple thanks and create new memories of your own to cherish for years to come.

I wanted to share few simple and fun traditions you can do to make your home extra special for this day of thanks:

*If you have children or little people visiting, put out crayons and markers and blank folded cards. Have them decorate a place card for each guest who will be attending dinner. Adding a little string to the craft table, and they may be inclined to also make a GIVE THANKS banner.

*Put out small pieces of paper and a pen and encourage guests to write what they are most thankful for and put it in a bowl. Over dessert, have everyone pull out a note from the bowl to share what is written.

* To make your home extra cozy and warm bring out extra throws, pillows, books and magazines for everyone to find a comfy chair to relax….

* Have a few fun board games to bring out….(especially if not everyone is into watching the football game).

* If you have a fireplace, instead of having a fire that needs to be tended constantly, put candles of various sizes in place of logs. Bringing a soft, warm glow without a lot of work.

* Most importantly enjoy this day, hug your loved ones. Share your home, which is you sharing your soul with everyone who enters. They will be honored by all you have done to welcome them!

huckleberry-press-hanning-porch
The Hanning’s harvest-decorated front porch.