The Day After Thanksgiving, Black Friday, is a day we associate with frenetic shopping, long lines, spectacular deals and gigantic crowds. And yes, while I do indeed take part in the insanity (though here is where living in a small town has its distinct advantages), I like to think how the Christmas season is always kicked off by a day of gratitude. By giving thanks for the many blessings we have, which have been given to us by the very One whose birth we begin to celebrate the very next day, we begin the "most wonderful time of the year." Pretty poignant, if you ask me.
This year, before our own dinner, we went to a church where the Little Brothers were serving Thanksgiving dinner to the elderly to perform a little service before we gorged ourselves with turkey and mashed potatoes. Our friends the P family and Bria's violin teacher also came and we played music together for a good hour and a half.
I'm thankful for Bria, who is finally performing on the violin in front of people with little to no anxiety, even if there are also few smiles. I'm thankful for her teacher, who provides her many opportunities to do so. And I'm thankful for her wonderful attitude about practicing these last few months--it's really showing in her playing.
I'm thankful for Sophia, who has no anxiety about performing in front of people and will offer to play for any person who enters our home. I'm thankful that she practices her Twinkles tirelessly. I'm thankful that we can somehow find the means to pay for music lessons every month, even though it often requires the sacrifice of other things.
I'm thankful that Sophia was willing to try her Twinkles, even though there was a cello playing which meant she'd have to switch strings, something she'd never done before.
I'm thankful that Bria was willing to help her little sister with the string switch. And I'm thankful that Sophia looks up to her big sister in matters of the violin as well as in many other things. I'm thankful for my girls, and I have to say this picture brings tears to my eyes and melts my heart into a puddle of squishy motherly lovey goo.
I'm thankful for Chloe's willingness to provide percussion accompaniment, since she plays piano and not violin like her sisters. I'm thankful for her sweetness and generosity in all things, not just percussion playing. I'm also thankful that she is perfectly willing to play for people, be it piano or the washboard, and that she practices happily and without reminder.
I'm thankful for the Maestro. He thought about not coming with us for this little service project so he could get the food ready. But he came, and I'm thankful he did. He helped sing and play percussion and we all had such fun together as a family. I'm thankful for music and for the talents of my husband and children and myself. I'm thankful that we can bring joy to others by sharing our God-given talents.
I'm thankful for our friends the P family. And I'm thankful for their ukeleles and their own willingness to share their musical gifts with others. I'm thankful that they came to our home afterward and that we were able to share a beautiful meal, lots of pie, and fun games with them. I'm thankful for their friendship, and for the friendship of ALL of my friends.
I don't know this couple, but while I was taking these photos he came up to me and said, "Do you want to take a picture of me and my wife? We've been married for 66 years!" I think perhaps he thought I was with the newspaper or something (my camera is big), but I happily took his picture, and I'm thankful he asked. I hope to be able to spend 66+ years with the Maestro, and it's neat to see a couple that has made it and is so proud of it.
Once we got back home, the kids worked on making our Thankful Tree centerpiece while the adults worked on final preparations of the feast.
This is what our centerpiece looked like this morning (since I forgot to take a picture of it during dinner last night). The kids brought a refreshing view to gratitude and wrote down things like "cheese" and "my stomach." Which are both excellent things for which to be grateful.
They of course hit all of the most important things, too.
Hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as ours!
Now that it's Black Friday, it's really time to think about Christmas shopping and gifts and decorating. I have a few links for you:
1. I am a featured blogger on Conde Nast's new Christmas website: Santa's Hideout. I am kind of in love with the website because there are lots of wonderful tips on organizing your holiday season. There are tools to help with gift giving as well as posts about everything you need to know at Christmas from baking to decorating. I was asked to share my Christmas Tree, which is one of my very favorite parts of Christmas.
2. For all my LDS readers: Mormon Market is a new website featuring wholesome LDS products. There are some cool things there, and I urge you to look at them as you shop for Christmas gifts this year. Plus, for every order, they donate $1.00 to the General Missionary Fund. Very cool. I have a coupon code for you for 40% off your order, good today (11/25) through Sunday, 11/27. Enter ENOS1 at checkout to redeem.
3. Finally, don't forget to enter the Scentsy giveaway! The winner will be drawn on December 5, so there is still plenty of time to enter. All you have to do is make a comment and you're entered. You can do the extra stuff if you want, but it's totally optional.