Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thanksgiving Decor (With Maybe Just a Little Election Ranting)

I don't delve into politics much here on the blog, but I will say that I abhor election season in America. It just seems to bring out the worst in people, and then it drags on and on. In undergrad, French was my minor, and we studied French politics in one of my classes. We followed their presidential elections which, campaign to election, lasted a matter of weeks. Why can't we do that here? Anyway, whether my candidate wins or loses, usually on election day I'm just grateful that the whole stupid campaign process is finally over.

This is the first time post election where, as much as I hated the campaign season (more so than any other before), I woke up the morning after wishing we could go back in time and just be in that liminal space again where the nightmare (of either candidate winning) was a looming yet hypothetical future, not a present reality.

What I have loved in the aftermath is all the searching for a silver lining, all the reminders that despite who our leaders are we can still be good, decent citizens living moral, honest lives, while raising our children to be better, kinder, and more understanding than the generation before. It might feel a bit shallow, at this time of great national division, to write a post about holiday decorations. But what better time than now to focus on a holiday all about gratitude? It's been my mental savior this whole pregnancy, focusing on the little things I'm grateful for, and it's a far better coping mechanism than drowning in the feeling that all hope is lost.

So let's talk Thanksgiving decorations.
For the past couple years, we've done a Thankful Tree every November. If you've ever been on Pinterest this time of year, you should be very familiar with what a Thankful Tree is, and that there are a million different versions and varieties. I've seen felt wall hangings, paper posters, smallish table-top things, the whole gamut. Two years ago, when adopting this tradition, I decided to go the literal route (also, the cheap and free route), and picked up a couple of big dead branches during a trip to the park one day. I plopped them in a vase, and then we cut leaves out of construction paper to write our thankful things on. Well, I decided that I liked the cool, sculptural branches so much that I threw the thankful leaves away after Thanksgiving was over, but kept the tree as our table-top centerpiece year-round (you can see a picture of it in this post here). We still put our thankful leaves on every November, but otherwise it's just part of the decor.

This year, instead of disposable paper leaves, I decided to create something that we could reuse year after year. I was just going to laminate the usual paper leaves, but my husband suggested I try laminating some real leaves, which I thought was a rather brilliant idea. Now, Houston is NOT known for it's gorgeous fall leaves, but I was surprised once I started looking around how many decent colorful leaves I was able to find. They are mostly browns and oranges, but at least they are dead (the vast majority of the leaves here are still alive, verdant green, and on the trees). So after a few hours of collecting, laminating, and cutting out, this is what our Thankful Tree looks like this year:

Sorry, the picture's a bit blurry, but I think it turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. We'll spend the next few weeks filling these leaves up with our thankful items (using dry erase marker), then wipe them off and store them for next year.

When cutting the leaves out of the laminate, I left enough room on the stem end to hole punch and tie a string loop through.

If we ever move, or if I ever get that autumn trip to New England I've been dreaming about, I'll collect some really colorful leaves and do this project again. But for now, I'm pretty happy with what we were able to manage.

As far as other decor goes, I'm keeping it fairly simple.

I bought a bag of mini pumpkins at the store and just sprinkled them over the bookshelf. While they are small, they really add quite the pop of color to the space.

And then I updated the chalkboard on the wall. I don't have much faith in my penmanship or artistic abilities, but I like the chalkboard trend too much to let that stop me (as The Nester would say, it doesn't have to be perfect to be good enough). It's like having a framed word print on my wall without having to commit to a single quote or print, and getting to design it myself for each holiday and season.  Win-win.

I'm actually hosting Thanksgiving this year, so at some point I'll start thinking about table-scaping for the big day, but otherwise I feel like these few simple things are the perfect amount of decor for our little space (and they fit my holiday decoration criteria). It's just enough to keep us thinking about gratitude all month long, and really, there is so much to be thankful for.

And hey, any good suggestions for Thanksgiving table-scaping?

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