November 2, 2011

Thanks is a Special Occasion

we are thankful for...

This month's Life is a Special Occasion theme, sponsored by Hallmark, is about Thanksgiving and family time. For me, growing up, family was everything -- our vacations were to see family, and every holiday was spent with family. 

As far back as I can remember, Thanksgiving was always at my grandparents' house until recent years. I mostly cared about my Mommal's mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts (which I now make.) It usually ended with everyone stuffed and lazy on the couch to watch a movie on TV and look through the sale ads for the day after shopping (we still do this, too!) The Target and Michael's ads are my fave.

After we got married, we shared Thanksgiving weekend with both of our families- usually spending the actual day with my parents and that Saturday with Jeff's parents. I always bring the same thing every time: roasted Brussels sprouts and fresh green beans with toasted almonds. Sometimes we've even celebrated with all our families (my parents, in-laws, including all the brothers and sisters-in laws and their parents!) but as the years have gone on and we've added so many extra people to our families, we've gone back to celebrating where we can fit.

hubby does the dishes
Thanksgiving 2009

Jeff has become everyone's Favorite because - no matter who's house we're at - he usually washes all the dishes while I read to the kids on the couch. He's awesome.

2003 was the first year I was to host at our house -- turkey in the oven and everything! --and Noah had his first seizure. We spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. My mom brought us a plate. I don't remember eating anything. It has taken me several years to embrace the holiday with warmth and good memories. But I can finally talk and write about it again without panicking. A very big thing to be thankful about! And PS this year we celebrate Noah being seizure-free for seven years now. SEVEN! THANKFUL!

put it in the pumpkin

A few years ago we started a precious tradition. As we prepared for the meal, Noah marveled at a ceramic pumpkin with a lid on the sofa table. He busied himself with cutting tiny slips of paper and announced, "hey guys, let's write down what we're thankful for and put it in the pumpkin and read them all later!"

And so we did (and still do.)

Later we read them aloud and are thankful for each other, our Thanksgiving meal, for chocolate and coffee (OF COURSE) and for our jobs and beds. We smile and we love and we thank. I can't wait to hear what everyone writes this year.

I never have the heart to empty the pumpkin so each year we add to the thankful reminders. I look forward to this very much.

Last year I gathered everyone around and read An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton. I plan to have the kids read it to everyone this year. I love how we've combined old traditions with new... it is a wonderful harmony.

What is Thanksgiving like for you? Do you hold on to traditions from your childhood? What new rituals have you added?

Hallmark is compensating me for participating in the Life Is A Special Occasion campaign, and they are encouraging us all to embrace new traditions- don't miss their big in-store Holiday Open House this weekend November 4-6!

Sign up for their promotional emails (you might even see me in there!) by following this link. I am partnering with Hallmark to spotlight how Life Is A Special Occasion  for the rest of this year. As always, all content, memories, and opinions expressed are my own.


  1. I loved this - almost as much as your photos on any given day.
    When I was growing up, our Thanksgiving table was a great place to lose weight, as my fam was forever doing stand-up comedy and it's hard to eat when food is flying out of your mouth from laughter.
    Today, both my kids are professional chefs (one a pastry chef, one a culinary dude) so Thanksgiving is like a 5-star vacation.
    Glad to hear yours has been incident-free for seven years so that you can just enjoy the soak-time with the people who mean the most.
    I'm thankful for YOUR POST :-)

  2. We used to split the Thanksgiving holiday between the two families but since the hubby's brother lives so far away and it's just his dad now we all go over to my mom & step dad's big house with the huge table and eat together. This year I want to make a thankful tree and keep it up through the Christmas season. Maybe I will pull one of our small trees out of the attic and do it that way, so when I am feeling the blues during the Christmas season, thinking of my dad who passed away 7 years ago after being in the hospital since Christmas eve, I will feel the thankfulness and the love.

  3. I love all the meaning and tradition you've imbued your holiday with. Beautiful.

  4. I love the pumpkin idea! That is wonderful. We don't have any concrete Thanksgiving traditions. We alternate going to my side of the family and Husband's side of the family. We do always put up our Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving, with our kids. They love it.

    In between Thanksgiving and Christmas we have a tradition for the 8 of us. We drive to a little town about 45 minutes away to buy steaks and chops for our Christmas dinner. The livestock is local and butchered all in one place, so it is good. We buy some other things too that we can only get there. Then on the way home we stop to eat dinner in another little town at a yummy chicken dinner place where everything is served family style. Our kids are already asking when we are going to go!

  5. You've made Thanksgiving so special, after it could've easily (and understandably) been ruined for you forever.
    I can't thank you enough for continuing to talk about being seven years seizure free. I cannot even imagine, but how beautiful it is to know it's a possibility.

  6. I have had this open all day because I wanted to remember to comment on it.
    I love this post so much. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day stuff and forget how blessed we are and how much we have to be thankful for.

    Thanksgiving this year is going to be a RIOT! 16 people in my house for a week. We will eat outside on the back porch and create warm weather memories. I can't wait!

  7. Sounds lovely :)

    I like that you add to the Thankful Pumpkin each year...we usually just say ours out loud before we dig in to our meal.

    This year Thanksgiving is also my youngest's birthday, so it's going to be a wonderful one.

  8. What a fabulous tradition idea Noah had! Love it.


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