Memories of raking leaves into huge piles, building fires & roasting S’mores, playing outside, and hiking in the Ozark Mountains with my parents, Pete & Margo, and brother, Andy, have imprinted fall and Thanksgiving in my heart as the most special season. The woods and trees are color-dappled in mellow sunlight, and the crisp edge in the air give outdoor visitors a moment of reflection and peace. This is a season to be cherished and shared with friends and family while consciously enjoying a slower pace.
I have lived many places, including Arkansas, Kansas, Tennessee, Indiana, and Texas, and visited many more states, and the season of fall and traditions of Thanksgiving seem to permeate throughout our land. And now that I have my own family, who are now mostly grown, I cherish the times spent together with my childhood family– including aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, and the family I’m building traditions with now. The many childhood traditions we had as a family, like everyone preparing our favorite dishes for the Thanksgiving meal (which always included a combination of big turkey stuffed and sliced; green bean casserole with condensed mushroom soup and crunchy onions on top; sweet potato casserole made with real milk and butter; Mr. Modisette’s cornbread stuffing; Aunt Jane and Julie’s broccoli-corn-cracker casserole; pecan, pumpkin, and apple pie with homemade real crusts; and bing cherry jello served on iceberg lettuce bring warm memories of a bustling kitchen and abundant conversations to mind.
Samantha Dion Baker’s helpful book, Draw Your Day: An inspiring guide to keeping a sketch journal has ‘inspired’ me to take a breath each day and focus on what really matters… like attempting to draw my childhood woods:)… still working on my technique, especially since my journal is not meant for watercolor. Samantha’s encouraging, relaxed style and Instagram posts rekindled the artist in me. Check out her cute little book, and start a journal-sketch-painting practice of your own. You can follow her on Instagram at sdionbakerdesign. I’ve also been inspired to take up watercolor painting again, and have found great peace in sketching and painting the natural world around us.
I love decorating with my kids childhood crafts, especially anything that has writing and a finger, hand, or footprint on it. These nostalgic pieces add so much character to a Fall-Thanksgiving spread… and they’re great conversation starters and free! My thoughtful mother always gives me seasonal Fall paper napkins to brighten up our table (notice the chickadee on the the Maple leaves?) We’ve had many humorous conversations around the dinner table, as our kids giggle about their childhood artistic ventures. It’s an easy way to get grown-up children talking:)
Another way to welcome fall and anticipate Thanksgiving is by switching out some of the colors in and around your home. Replacing a cool spring-summer color palette in your bedding, blankets, placemats and kitchen towels, door mats, to warmer colored hues (warm shades orange, purples, reds, yellows, and teals) helps a home feel cozy and welcoming
Native Americans and their culture have always held my interest, and I feel it is important to share with my family their contributions to our American heritage. Displaying books, dolls, figures, and Indian paraphanelia around our home adds to the fall-Thanksgiving flavor. I remember my mom braiding my very light blond hair and tying leather, beaded Indian tassels at the ends. Wearing leather moccasins is also a favorite childhood memory, as well as reading about the different indigenous American tribes. Stories like Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac and beautifully illustrated by Greg Shed are great books to have on display and read during this time of year.
And finally a nod to some of my favorite fall-Thanksgiving treasures and ways to get your family involved. All of Susan Branch’s Heart of the Home books are inspirational and wonderful, but her Autumn book is perfect for this time of year. It is loaded with her original artwork, pictures, recipes and tips for making the most of your fall-Thanksgiving. I also love Mary Engelbreit‘s whimsical artwork and have saved her pictures and cards for display around the home. Making a pumpkin bird feeder looks like a fun activity to try with kids, and if the weather is nice, they could create it on the back porch. Taking a walk outside with your dogs, friends, and-or family will
May this fall season inspire you to spend time outdoors in peaceful nature with your family anticipating a grace filled Thanksgiving. Happy Trails to you and yours and Happy Fall! Sarah Andersen