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The afternoon breezes are picking up, the temperatures are finally beginning to drop, and I can just see the beginnings of changing leaves out my kitchen window. This is my very favorite time of year. I look forward to hot apple cider and pumpkin pie and watching the boys wrestling in the leaf piles. But, every year it feels like I’ve hardly had time to enjoy the fall and then it is Christmas and then January and I’m wondering where all the time went all over again. So we’ve decided to make the most of the coming season and all the impending holiday fun by getting an early start. For the next couple of weeks we’ll be posting about everything holiday and festive and fallish.  Now is the time to rekindle old traditions and introduce some new ones – because the season will be gone before you know it.

To kick us off, I want to share a Thanksgiving tradition that we have enjoyed for the last few years. It started when we began hosting our family’s Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We wanted to make it really special and make sure that our focus was on giving thanks.  We worked together to create our own Thankfulness Tree. We wanted it to be sturdy enough to last for generations to come. My husband drew a large tree shape on a piece of plywood, cut it out with a jigsaw (I think), and then I painted it.

It seems like quite a project – and it was – but that is why I’m telling you about it in the beginning of October. You have plenty of time to draw your tree and borrow a jigsaw from a neighbor. After painting the tree brown, I printed the letters using a computer font that I liked, traced them onto the tree, and then filled it in with cream-colored paint. For the leaves, initially I used a leaf template I found online and traced and cut them out by hand, but then we were blessed to acquire a maple leaf-shaped cutter that speeds up that process considerably. It is a big tree, I think around 4 feet tall, so storage is another thing to consider. Since it is flat, we were able to slide it behind a storage shelf in the basement.

I write the year and the name of each person who will be sharing our Thanksgiving meal on the leaves and use them as place cards on the table. Then throughout the meal we all take some time to think about and write one thing we’re thankful for on the back of our leaf. The only rule is that you have to write something that you’ve never written before.

After the meal we take turns sharing what we’ve written and then we attach the leaves to the tree. It has become a wonderful memory keeper for us. We can see years that babies were born, times when we had family visiting from far away, and we can remember those who aren’t with us anymore.