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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Countdown to Thanksgiving: The End

Last week --- If you’re working alongside me, hopefully you’re experiencing a deeper awareness of why we celebrate this holiday  (no, its not about the turkey!!) 
As I move this close to Thanksgiving, its time for me to explain about a quirky holiday tradition in our household.  Each Thanksgiivng, I select a couple of people for whom I am especially grateful this year.  It can be for any reason --- just people who have made that quiet difference for me – and who deserve to know that – and to feel my appreciation.  I spend some quiet time – with a pen and some nice stationary --- and write them a letter explaining why I am so grateful for them in my life right now.  I generally mail them right before Thanksgiving. 
So the first item on my to-do list this week is to write my Thanksgiving letters.  My first one is going to our dog school teacher – without her, our dog would still be a complete and total wild child – she and we would be much less happy together.  Without Leea and her work with us, this  might not have been a successful rescue of a beautiful animal.  Whether Ginger knows it or not, she owes Leea her life --- she’s one happy dog because of the work that Leea does. 
My second Thanksgiving letter this year is going to a colleague at work.  She is the person who checks on me when things are stressy.  She leaves me little notes to cheer me up.  She always has something positive to say – even after an awful meeting.  She just makes life at work better.  And she’s not even aware of how much she does this – and how huge a difference it makes for everyone (not just me).  So she gets a letter this year. 
The rest of my list for the week looks like this:
·       Finish up the shopping for Thanksgiving dinner.
·       Pick up a bouquet from Double Decker Farm --- I so love their vegetables and flowers – there won’t be all that much left – the season is really over – but Deb does such a terrific job with bouquet wrangling that it will be beautiful – and certainly more elegant and lovely than anything from the supermarket or florist. 
·       Pick up a bag of ice --- I want cold drinks for Thanksgiving!!
·       Set up the timeline for cooking --- if I don’t plan this out like a military operation, we’ll be eating Thanksgiving dinner in six courses – based on what’s done when.  Not fun.  I take the time to back everything up from T-Time to know when to start what.
·       Set out all of the necessary pots and pans with sticky notes about what gets cooked in each one.  There’s nothing more frustrating than going to cook the potatoes and realizing that you already used the only pot they’ll fit in --- Plan ahead and label everything.
·       Set out and label all of the serving dishes --- Need I repeat?  It also makes it so someone else can actually be helpful in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day – not just in the kitchen and in the way.
·       Tuesday, I’ll do the baking – all the pies and quick breads.  The bread can wait until Thursday itself since it bakes in the bread machine and doesn’t tie up my oven.
·       Wednesday night, I’ll set the table.  Its nice to get up in the morning and be greeted by a lovely table all ready for Thanksgiving.  We’ll eat breakfast at the kitchen counter….. that’s why I got those stools anyway, isn’t it??

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Countdown to Thanksgiving

 I’m moving into week three of the Thanksgiving countdown – and I’m more in the spirit of  Thankfulness than ever.  I’m feeling like the holiday will run smoothly this year (that might be wishful thinking – but the planning and preparation are at least good mental energy).  I’m continuing this week to focus myself on being aware of my blessings.  I remember a hymn from my childhood – count your blessings, see what God has done.  That’s the biggest part of the plan this week. 
·       Wash the tablecloth and the cloth napkins we use for Thanksgiving (they definitely haven’t been used since last year ) Make sure there are no stains or tears that will make me not want to use them. 
·       Beg my husband to sharpen the carving knife for the turkey.  I cannot stand that every man in my family seems to believe that five minutes before Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect time for this chore.  I remember watching my grandfather do this every year.  It was so predictable that it became a family joke.  My husband is in serious danger of carrying on the family tradition on this one.  And this is one tradition I could do without.
·       Clean out the fridge.  As I keep shopping, I’ll need the room—Its no fun to try to clean out the sticky gunk with one hand while balancing the fresh groceries with the other hand. I want to get the jump on this one before the fridge starts filling up too much.
·       Check the stores again – new week – new sale.  See what from my grocery list is on sale or free this week.
·       Burn a CD of gratitude music.  Yes, I’m really serious.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for years.  There are so many wonderful pieces of music that remind us to be thankful.  I want to gather a collection of some of my favorites and burn them to a CD as music for Thanksgiving dinner.  If you have ideas for me --- leave me a comment – I’m open to ideas.
·       Gather up my plastic leftover containers and match the lids to the containers.  My stash of plasticware is a mess.  Actually, it is well beyond a mess and has moved into complete chaos.  If I wait until I’m packing leftovers for the gang, I will never be able find lids to go with containers and I will end up frustrated and tense.  I prefer to feel grateful and appreciative --- matched lids and containers will move me in that direction (and will push my dear husband right over the edge into singing praises of thanksgiving – this is a bugaboo of his)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Countdown to Thanksgiving

 So – I survived last week’s start at getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Its amazing how just starting the process increases my sense of gratitude and awareness of just how much I am blessed.  So – as I continue my getting ready this week – I want to be very mindful and intentional about my preparation.  I want to focus on being thankful as a mental preparation while I’m going about the physical preparations.
·       Run the platters and special fall dishes through the dishwasher (some of them haven’t been out since last Thanksgiving – yuck)
·       Do a real serious cleaning of the house --- that way the next two weeks can be just minor cleaning to maintain that….
·       Call the salon and make an appointment for next week – I need a haircut before the holiday and if I don’t do it now, I’ll be cooking my turkey with a ratty hairband because my hair will be completely unworkable. 
·       Check out the stores for things on my grocery list that might be on sale this week. 

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Countdown to Thanksgiving

Its time for my countdown to Thanksgiving!!  I love this holiday.  I love the fall and the decorating that goes with it.  I love the colored leaves, the pumpkins, and the nuts.  I love the spices and smells that go with Thanksgiivng.  I love the togetherness of family and friends.  And most of all, I love the awareness of gratitude that Thanksgiving gifts to us. 
So – its time to begin planning and getting ready.  Here’s my plan for this week:
·       Pick up some decorative pumpkins for the table (just little ones)
·       Grab one or two more potted mums – not sure where they’ll end up yet – but they always look terrific at Thanksgiving.
·       Count up who is coming --- and invite anyone I can think of who might not have a place to spend Thanksgiivng (I’m a believer that “the more the merrier” was meant for Thanksgiving.  I also believe that one of the ways in which we demonstrate our gratitude for our good fortune is sharing that with others – especially those who don’t have family and friends nearby with whom to celebrate)
·       Write down the menu and an accompanying shopping list.  A lot of the list will be on sale in the  next couple of weeks – and much of it will be free with coupons and rebates – I need to know what I need to take advantage of that. 
·       Check the spice cabinet – there’s nothing worse than going to make apple pie and discovering that you’re short on cinnamon.  I want to know NOW while I can still do something about it.
·       Make a list of what needs to be thoroughly cleaned or repaired around our house in order to be company ready --- this way we still have four weeks to get it done!