Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thank you WHO?

Growing up, my family was never really big on holiday traditions. Not that holidays were not special, we just didn't have anything that we did every year that had to be a certain way...with one exception - our Thanksgiving posterboard. This was my dad's doing. He'd go to the store every year and buy the big piece of fresh white posterboard. We'd break out the markers (I'm not sure why we always used scented ones...funny how the sense of smell lingers in the memory) and we'd all write out and/or draw pictures of all the things we were thankful for that year. We've been doing this for as long as I can remember and I think my dad has them all saved still.

On the poster, my parents always put each other, each of us kids, the Bible and Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. As we got older, my sister and I included the names of our boyfriends. My brother Steve began to add politically controversial remarks just to get a rise out of us. Now the grandkids scrawl on the poster as well.

It is fun and funny to go back and look at previous years' posterboards. Last year I hosted Thanksgiving so I kept the posterboard. I just took it out and can't help but smile at my brother Dave's attempt to draw a skin graft, thankful for his new job where he grows them in a lab. And sure enough, Steve was thankful that Spain proved Anarchy works. My oldest daughter placed smiley faces with stick arms and legs all over the poster, presumably our family members. My mom drew a pretty little sketch of the yard and pond behind their house. I was thankful for my blue-eyed beauties.

We were very skimpy with our poster content last year.
 This year, I decided it was time to establish a similar tradition for my own little family but with a twist, inspired by this idea I saw in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine:

I decided we would make a Thanksgiving Tree and each day we'd each write something we are thankful to God for on a leaf and attach it to the tree. I looked no further than the middle of our yard after a really windy day to pick up the perfect branch that had fallen out of the trees. Then I looked around the house for a place to prop it up and distplay it. I happened to have a fishing basket sitting on a rocking chair in our front entry room (because I haven't found a better place to display or use for it yet) and I stuck the branch inside of it, leaning it against the back of the chair. It works:

The BH&G website does provide a downloadable maple leaf template to copy and cut (warning, you need to be a bhg.com member to access it). However, the girls and I had been collecting leaves lately for a leaf identification project for school...

...so I just traced the shapes of a Maple, Burr Oak and Elm leaf on construction paper and cut them out. That took me at least a few days to cut out enough of these (I haven't attempted nursing and cutting projects at the same time yet!):

Then I used a star-shaped scrapbooking hole-puncher on each leaf and dug out my twine, intending to tie them onto the branches. It turns out all the little branches were perfect to just hang the leaves on, with no need to continue using twine yet. If we run out of new little branches to hang them on, then we'll use twine to attach them to the middle of branches.

The girls have to find the perfect branch for each leaf.

Our Thanksgiving Tree after a few days.

Every day my kids look forward to putting what they are thankful for on a leaf and hanging it up. When friends and family are over, we ask if they'd like to put a leaf on the tree. Every day my oldest daughter tells me how great the tree looks and how much she loves to do this activity. It just got me thinking how it is so easy to think of things we are thankful for but it can be just as easy to get wrapped up in what we are thankful for, or our traditions, and not stop to think more about WHO we are thankful TO.  Due to Facebook culture, we are so quick to communicate when we "Like" something. But this is not to be our "I like..." tree and this holiday is not "Likesgiving." The point is not to think of or list all the things we like. It's to focus on who provides the things we like. Who makes everything we like possible? It is impossible to truly celebrate Thanksgiving or to be thankful for anything at all if there is no recipient of our thanks. WHO is the object of your thanksgiving this year?

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." - Psalm 118:1  This is a verse my oldest recently memorized as part of her AWANA program at church.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." - James 1:17  I often bring up this verse in conversation with my kids or as I pray out loud with them so they are constantly reminded of where every single thing they like and are thankful for comes from.

It looks like this will be the first year in a long time that my whole family will not be doing our traditional Thanksgiving posterboard. It just happens to work out that three of us four siblings have lunch plans with the in-laws or significant other's family. I'm not sure if my dad will bother with the poster for just my mom, him and my "little" brother. I'm sure they will add some leaves to our tree though when the three of them come over for muffins and coffee Thanksgiving morning.

I plan on making the most AMAZING pumpkin muffin recipe. Imagine the most moist pumpkin muffins ever, surprisingly filled with a sweet cream cheese mixture that bakes up like cheesecake and then covered in crunchy cinnamon crumb topping. They are heaven. I clipped this recipe so long ago that I have no idea what magazine it came from so I cannot give credit where it is due. But I've held on to it in my clipped recipe binder and thanks to my handy dandy scanner, I am still able to share the picture and recipe:

Is that pumpkin splatter on the recipe??  :)
I am thankful to God for pumpkin muffins...and lots of other things. HE is the object of my Thanksgiving this year, and every year. He created, sustains, and is in control of everything. All that I have comes from Him. All that I am is because of Him.

"O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker." Psalm 95:1-6

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