The (Thanks)Giving Tree

Oh, November, you have a hard row to hoe. The middle child of year’s end wedged between the delightful youth of October with its sugar induced, ghoulish campfire stories and elegant December with its twinkle light covered gifts. Poor November, no elaborate decorations, no holiday parties, no cinematic tributes or television specials. The eleventh month of the year has always seemed like three weeks of waiting in the livingroom for the turkey being prepared in the most slow and torturous way.

Dutifully, at the beginning of the week I packed up our vampires and devils, pumpkins and skeletons, ghosts and goblins into their box and returned them to the garage. And with that action I realized how utterly bare our house seems without them. Not the cleansing spareness that I welcome with January’s fresh start flavor of minimalism – but a boring, empty feeling.

I felt our November needed a makeover. And thus the Thanksgiving tree was brought in.

Every year we do a gratefulness challenge. Most of the time it is just a list that my kids scribble down on notebook paper, while I post mine in status updates on social media. This year I thought it would be snazzier if we made it a more visually appealing affair. I brought in a branch from our backyard, placed it in a large mason jar and anchored it with stones.  We then traced our hands on construction paper, cut out the silhouette and wrote something we are thankful for on them. A bit of yarn to hang them with and voila! November has a decorative, crafty tradition that underscores a core value of our family – appreciating what we have.

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I love our tree and I can’t wait to see it covered in colors and joy by the end of the month. However, I think that our November has room for more. So the second tradition we are doing for the month of Thanksgiving focuses on the second half of the word: Giving. We begin by donating outgrown clothing and toys to our local rescue mission and follow that up with putting together some cold weather bags for the homeless in our area (ziploc bags filled with gloves, a hat, a scarf and some socks) and choosing a couple of new toys to donate to Toys for Tots.

“November is usually such a disagreeable month…as if the year had suddenly found out that she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it. This year is growing old gracefully…just like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles. We’ve had lovely days and delicious twilights.” – L.M. Montgomery

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