Thankful Tree

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Last Thanksgiving, I felt like a real turkey when I forgot to pick up fresh flowers for our centerpiece. Grace, my 6-year-old, pint-sized Martha Stewart, had created a lovely tablescape replete with hand-written place cards, pine cones, and multi-colored paper leaves — and she was adamant that we needed "something in the middle."

She suggested we pick something out of the backyard, so together we went foraging. We clipped a few pine boughs and cut some branches off our curly willow tree to add to a vase. While pretty in its simplicity, the vase of twigs just seemed to be missing something.

"Christmas balls," Grace suggested. Good idea, I told her, but if her 2-year-old brother managed to access them, we'd have broken glass on the table.

"Lights," she tried.

"Pretty, but nowhere to plug them in," I replied.

Amidst the craft supplies Grace had been using, we discovered some manila luggage tags from the office supply store. We decided to put a tag and a colored pencil at each place setting for our guests.

When everyone was seated, Grace asked each person to write, or draw, something that he or she was grateful for. Before the meal, we went around the table and each person shared what he'd written, then hung his or her tag on the branches of our centerpiece.

The sentiments ranged from the profound, "Simply this moment," to the humorous, "chocolate pecan pie," and everywhere in between. We had a mixed crowd of friends and family, some meeting one another for the first time, so it was a great icebreaker and gave way to some fun and meaningful conversation.

No flowers could compare to our beautiful results. I placed the arrangement on a sideboard to make room for the meal and we enjoyed it well past the holidays and into the New Year.

You can improvise, like we did, or use follow these directions. Either way you'll wind up with a meaningful new addition to your Thanksgiving tradition.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? How do you stay focused on the spirit of the season? Click the comments link below to find and share solutions.

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Thankful Tree

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