Several years ago, I took a large white sheet and put it on the table for Thanksgiving. I’m no Martha Stewart, so the family was not surprised at my uninspired method of decorating for the holiday. I gave everyone at the table a fine point permanent marker and asked them to write what they were thankful for on the tablecloth.
The first thing I learned was that without something absorbent under the white sheet, our thankfulness was recorded directly on the table for a good long while. Fortunately, my table is one of those that always benefits from a cover. The new marks blended right in.
My plan was to drag that cloth out each year and add to it. Like many plans made by a busy mother, it fizzled. The tablecloth found its way into a box of miscellaneous items and never escaped until we moved over the summer. Since it wasn’t yet Thanksgiving, I crammed it in with the holiday decorations until this week.
With the kids decorating the house with fall leaves, handprint turkeys and construction paper cutouts, I was inspired to do my part and go find that sheet. After some ironing, I took a look.
Some of the children gave thanks for getting older. Those who didn’t yet know how to write were enthusiastically undeterred. Scribbles were a sufficient way to express their gratitude.
It turns out that none of us were terribly profound back then. We all found a reason to be thankful. Everyone listed the kinds of things we all agree are blessings but that I’d wager we don’t fully appreciate while we have them. Family, friends and a home to live in topped the list.
The answers are trite in a way, even as they are true. We had nothing outstanding to report because we had been blessed with a fairly unremarkable year. The older I get, the more I appreciate those kinds of years.
With our little farm (quite small by industry standards), we have come to appreciate the Thanksgiving feast not only as a time to give thanks for the blessings in our lives but also as an appreciation of the harvest.
Having now lived through several disasters that have affected — or obliterated — any hope of profitable harvest, perhaps I can begin to appreciate what it meant in years past to celebrate having enough at the end of the season to make it through the winter.
In the time before supermarkets that never close, provisions for winter were stored in the cellar, the larder and the smokehouse. In our homeschool, we do set aside a portion of the food we need for winter by canning and preserving, but when we run out of time or interest, we always know that we can find sustenance from another source.
Our table this year will be loaded with food we grew ourselves along with other goodies prepared by friends. We’ll have a traditional turkey — a Bourbon Red heritage bird we grew from a hatchling — along with a couple of roast geese, a smoked duck and a Mediterranean goat stew. We have been blessed with the good health needed to do the work to create this feast. Our time with friends will enhance the experience.
Everyone will get a new marker, and I’ll try to remember to put a pad under the tablecloth before we write down why we are thankful. Family, friends and a home to live in — not a bad place to start.
Her most recent book, Start Homeschooling Today: No Experience Required provides a simple set of instructions that will give the beginning homeschooler the tools and the confidence to begin homeschooling successfully.