at the corner of thankful and merry

This is our Thanksgiving tree. It's lovely and made from our own dirt and willow branches and leaves I drew and then stenciled onto purple, yellow, red, and brown paper. The tree was something I wanted us to do all through November; gathering together taking a moment to each fill out a leaf and hang it from the tree until at the end of the month we would find a tree fairly sagging under the weight of our gratitude.

It's a dear idea, but we didn't do it. I only cut the leaves out of the purple paper. It has about five leaves on it upon which we Brilliant Beauty wrote what we were she was thankful for, and that's all. But I'm refusing to be regretful about it. No, that simply won't do. Instead, as we exit one holiday season and enter the next, our poorly-executed Thanksgiving tree is serving as a prompt moving forward. It reminds me first that whether we put the leaves up or not, we lived active gratitude in November, so much in fact that we were too busy to assemble the tree. That's good to remember, that we're a grateful bunch and know this life of ours is so very rich.

The failed tree secondly delivers a sort of caution to me to not attempt over-achievement at making a holiday special, and that's a prudence I could use stepping into the "most wonderful time of the year" that is Christmas. In a month where it's easy to feel pushed and pulled and tugged to put elves on shelves, choices of advent calendars are numerous and aplenty, parties and parades and events are in every direction, I could use a moment to take heed in stopping, savoring, slowing down. What is special to us about this season? How do we nurture it, help it grow? And all while keeping our whits about us in the flow of busyness . . .

The Thanksgiving tree is down, disassembled and discarded. The leaves are tucked away to maybe try again next year. It's a dear idea. And the Christmas tree isn't up yet. It will be; in fact, we're making a date of it next Sunday because we know then we can slow our pace, make hot chocolate, turn on the music, and enjoy the processing of converting our cottage into its Christmas-time self.

I'm looking forward to it, to savoring the process.

Here are a few final Thanks-givings from the last days of November.

this dear face soaking up some light therapy and reading
across from me at the breakfast table before little ones were awake
Brilliant Beauty learning how to crochet her first chain of stitches
date night...without Pretty Baby even though she's doggone cute
the remnants of our fall mantle pumpkins that Little Big Man
was elated to have the privilege of smashing to bits in the back yard
a sweet girl abandoning dress-up mid-costume change to look at library book after library book
crocheting Christmas secrets

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