I thought this was a lovely image for Thanksgiving. The guest comes bearing gifts - straight from the tree.
Aside from the turkeys we constructed in elementary school with multi-colored paper feathers, the Pilgrims were never far from our lessons. We were taught the reason for the first Thanksgiving meal was thanks for the harvest which would provide bounty for yet another harsh New England winter. Many centuries separate our holiday from the Pilgrims' benediction and now the main theme of the American Thanksgiving is family, home and gratitude for both.
This year, my daughter is entertaining us for the first time and in her new house. And she's very nervous. My mother asked her what kind of stuffing she planned on making. "There's more than one kind???" she nervously queried back. I will be there early to help her and will be bringing pie, wine, and a carrot soufflé.
I think the hardest part of the Thanksgiving meal is making sure everything is hot at the same time. It's not an easy feat. My mother did it in her suburban home even while longing for a separate dining room. One year, the week before the holiday, my father finished turning a bedroom into a real and permanent dining room. It was so beautiful. My mother's perfect wished-for Thanksgiving at last came to life born of my father's gift.
When I was married, my husband and I traveled to his parents' ski house in Vermont each year. There was never a snow-less Thanksgiving there. But it wasn't the snow that made it cold. The first year I was a fresh new bride who came bearing gifts too. I went to a crafts shop and purchased all the materials to make petite dried marigold corsages with chestnut-brown silk ribbons replete with pearl-topped fastening pins for the women who would be at the table. But when I saw how relaxed and casual ski-holiday entertaining was, my bestowal seemed out of place and silly. I wanted so much for them to like me. But my mother-in-law's weak smile told me everything I needed to know. Instead I worked as a quiet servant, staying in the background helping bring chairs up from the basement and peeling potatoes at the sink. When one of the non-relative guests looked me in the eye and seemed interested in getting acquainted, it was a revelation - someone noticed. Sadly, these Thanksgivings continued for a few more years and they were never warmer - or easier, not even the year my "gift" was a first grandchild.
Last week, I delighted in hearing my hairdresser's story about how she searched online for the perfect brown "left-overs box" and how she decorated each one with a guest's name in gold and a raffia tie. Her excitement was infectious and charming. Unlike my corsages, I know her gift will be a welcome touch for her own wished-for Thanksgiving experience.
Maybe it was the married Thanksgivings that make me so very thankful for the ones I now enjoy with my family and friends. And even though my new son-in-law is carving this year, I will still have a hand in crafting my holiday. I will break bread with those I love and those that love me. My own wished-for Thanksgiving.
I cannot end this post without thanking my sister and brother-in-law for their many years of Thanksgiving-hosting. The light in their pretty home drew us all to their doorstep and I'm happy they can take it easier at my daughter's this year. But like our young miss in the picture above, I know they will arrive bearing gifts and whatever they are, they will be accepted with gratitude and love. That's how we roll...
Note: Have you tried "Google Image Reverse" yet? I fell in love with the above image and uploaded it into Google's new search engine which gave me similar pictures as well as the source of this one - a British clothing catalog. And speaking of British clothing, you may want to check out Marks and Spencer's new Christmas video where Mrs. Claus offers a modern-day version of a cherished ideal.