Monday, November 3, 2014

Giving thanks

Thanksgiving. It's a word that conjures up all kinds of images from my childhood -- pilgrims, Indians, corn, the Mayflower -- you name it. I have always loved it. 

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Of course, I always looked forward to the amazing food we shared with either set of grandparents and extended family. We always had home grown vegetables and prepared from scratch meals that truly captured the spirit of Thanksgiving -- especially cornbread dressing made from the corn grown and passed down through my maternal grandfather's family. And nothing says Thanksgiving more than a pie made from home-grown candy roasters -- also a Native American-cultivated squash passed down through my mother's family. 

Throughout my college years, the Thanksgiving experience was intensified by a whirl of activity as I hurried to finish 20+ Elizabethan costumes I had to design then make with help from my mom and grandmother.

I have such wonderful memories in the sewing room with them both -- laughing and creating along with the steady whir of three sewing machines. 

The costumes had to be finished and fitted for annual Madrigal Dinners and performances at Biltmore House the following weekend. Thanksgiving and costume making went hand-in-hand and I remember it all so fondly.

After college, I moved away to Georgia where Thanksgiving was spent with roommates and sometimes extended family. I remember calling my grandmother and having her dictate to me exactly how to cook a turkey and make cornbread dressing and gravy. I also remember it was not very much like hers either:-)

After I joined the Air Force, Thanksgiving was everywhere but home. 

From England... Bosnia.



...and Turkey.

Many Thanksgivings were
spent entertaining troops and their families, visiting wounded troops, or gathered around a table with co-workers in a dining facility. And yes, it was seriously exciting, and something Luis and I both miss.

Since leaving the military and settling back in North Carolina, Thanksgiving has become centered on church and family. Even though we are not at some exotic overseas location, there are still so many wonderful opportunities to serve others. 

Our church hosts a community Thanksgiving dinner where we cook and serve a meal and give away food boxes complete with turkeys, along with coats, hats, gloves and blankets. We have also cooked and served at a local soup kitchen that hosts emergency shelter residents looking for a warm meal and a bed. 

So as much as I love to set a pretty table...

...and cook the turkey and dressing using the notes my grandmother gave me way back in 1989--

-- my focus is on my family, my beautiful children, giving to others, and being thankful for everything I have.

So, no matter where I spend Thanksgiving... is a sacred time to reflect on blessings great and small, family and faith. And one that has become something I look forward to all year. The important thing is to make it count -- pay it forward:-)

I'll be joining:

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  1. Great post, Anita! Your table looks so pretty and welcoming, and I enjoyed seeing the pictures from your Air Force days. I think something like that would make a lifelong impression on a person and change the way you look at the world. What a wonderful experience.

    Thanks for sharing and I agree with your thoughts on Thanksgiving -- being thankful for all our blessings and sharing with others not as fortunate.

    Have a great week! :)


    Denise at Forest Manor

  2. Beautiful post Anita!! I loved seeing the photos of when you were in the Air Force!

  3. Lovely story and all your pictures....Your tablescapes are gorgeous!

  4. I never knew you were in the Air Force and also being so very talented with your performance and costume making!...I so love reading this post and getting to know you have lived such a very interesting and exciting life!...Now I am sure you are truly enjoying the serenity of your home and surroundings in the beautiful Carolina mountains....and now I am the happy recipients of your talents as I so enjoy your blog.

  5. Beautifully said and illustrated, Anita. Your talents and skills are - much like Thanksgiving itself - bountiful. It's wonderful that you choose to selflessly share them with others. I don't think I knew you served in the military. Thank you for your service! To keep the spirits of our troops up is no small job. You look like you were really rockin' it out!!!

    Isn't it funny how no matter how hard we try our dressing never quite turns out like that of the masters before us??? My Mom is the Queen of Dressing around here, and I have tried many times to replicate no avail! I'll keep working at it, though! Meanwhile, she always knows that's her contribution to the Thanksgiving table!

    This was a beautiful post, Anita. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your very interesting past!!!

  6. I truly love the peace, warmth and kindness that emanates from your posts, and am enjoying your country decor ideas.

    Thank you for sharing!


  7. Love the pics of you from your tours around the world. I know you were an encouragement to many of the troops.

    Your Thanksgiving tables are beautifully styled with your personal flair. Enjoyed seeing them again.

    I can tell you received the greater blessing giving to others than the recipients of your kindness and generousityl