Here's my beef. There's all sorts of statements on Pinterest and Facebook that are knocking on folks who decorate for Christmas early, saying "Don't bypass Thanksgiving". Well, here's my response to that, NOTHING MAKES ME MORE FULL OF THANKSGIVING THAN CELEBRATING WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT!
And, my family feels the same way. If it were up to them, the house would be decorated the day after Halloween. As it is, they ask that I keep the day I choose to decorate secret, so that when they return from school, they can walk in and be surprised. I had planned ahead and chosen a day that Kristen (Travis' sister) could watch Whitley so I'd have all day to myself to take care of the job. (And, it is definitely an all day job). It's a joy to me though, playing Pandora Christmas music while I make slight modifications to the year's prior decor - tweeking here and there to make this year special.
My other reason for choosing Thursday, was knowing that our Bible Study had opted to have a Thanksgiving Feast in honor of the next Thursday being unable to meet due to the holiday. They had talked up the way the house looks during Christmas to Leah (I'm pretty sure Darcy had seen it decorated), so I was eager to make it special for them.
Some of the following pictures were taken by Kaela - including this Instagram collage of some of the decor.
This next picture is something you'll rarely see in my house - a "set table". In fact, we've only ever set a table up (beyond the four of us at our little red and white table) was for a Murder Mystery Party we hosted in. This wasn't my plan when we originally decided to do this meal, I figured we'd eat off of our laps in the living room. But, then, last Thursday, Elaina and Suzie got to talking about whether or not we had wedding china. I guiltily confessed that yes we did, but it's never used, and stored in boxes in the garage. Consequently, Wednesday night was spent finding all of the boxes stored away, and unpacking them all with Mikayla to discover just how much china we have. Leona (John's mom) is the reason we have all of this beautiful dinnerware. She had accumulated more and more pieces to the set - so much so that I think we could probably have tea for 20 with all of the saucers and teacups we have. It is a treasure, and I feel bad we haven't made use for it more. Now, happily, I can report that it is all safely stored within access, inside, and on display in the corner hutch adjacent to our kitchen (also a gift from Leona).
The meal all came together in potluck style. In fact, I was one of the last to show up as I was coaching volleyball up until 6:30. We were missing Elaina Thursday night (and of course Christi and Courtney), but otherwise had a very full table full of beautiful women both inside and out.
Given that this year's Thanksgiving will be an "Alternative Thanksgiving" - at a restaurant where I'll probably eat non-Thanksgiving food - it was great to feel like I had done it right and traditional on this evening.
Then, it was time for dessert. That was what I contributed. I decided to pre-test one of the desserts I plan to make for the Harlow Auction Dessert Dash. It is a "Salted Caramel Vanilla Bean Oreo Crust Cheesecake" (As my friend, Kristen said, "You had me at Oreo crust"!). I put it together on Wednesday and had a good feeling about it based on tasting a bit of each layer. It requires soaking a real vanilla bean and gathering the tiny dots from inside the pod - always fun to try something new and feel more and more like an accomplished homemaker! But, you never actually know if something has turned out until you try it all put together - particularly a cheesecake, wondering if it is truly cooked and set inside.
I didn't perfect the sea-salt garnish - and will rise the crust up a bit more so there's no caramel overflow - that's why we had a pre-test! But, the taste verdict - THUMBS UP! It got rave reviews from all of the girls and John - in fact, he'd say it was the best dessert I'd ever made, worthy of ordering from a fancy restaurant. I guess that means it's worthy of the Harlow Auction Dessert Dash.
The evening ended by watching the Hallmark Channel's "Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade". That didn't quite receive the "Two Thumbs Up" review, but it was cozy - particularly when I booted Mikayla to bed and took her place for Heather to play with my hair. Yes, we are a bonded group and love our time together. Truly, a major reason I have to be thankful.