Vien R. Guenther
Celebrating Thanksgiving plus Easy Decorating Ideas
Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Thanksgiving is an ancient tradition celebrated throughout Europe and North America. It is a tradition not only for celebrating the harvest, but also for all the blessings that we received - guidance, protection and our good health. Thanksgiving in North America was first documented in 1621, brought by the Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated to New England in the 1620’s and 1630’s. But even before their arrival, native people, particularly the Wampanoag, had ceremonies giving thanks for good harvest.
Today Thanksgiving in the United States is celebrated the fourth Thursday of November. It was proclaimed as a National Thanksgiving Day by President Abraham Lincoln. In Canada, the first Thanksgiving can be traced back to the first French settlers in the area in the late 17th century. They celebrated Thanksgiving the second Monday of October, a public holiday in most regions of Canada.
"THE FIRST THANKSGIVING"
It was said that the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated between the Pilgrims and the native people of the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth Colony. Dinner consisted of waterfowl and wild turkey, venison, seafood (lobster, clams, mussels, oysters), berries, pumpkin and squash.
So, what's for dessert? Back in England, where the Pilgrims came from, they would have had plenty of pies and tarts on the table, but in North America, there is no butter and wheat at that time, so definitely no pastries for dessert.
Dinner tradition today usually features a turkey with stuffing (or dressing on the side), cranberries and gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie for dessert. Then it goes from there, from green bean casserole topped with crunchy onions to corn, yams and other Fall vegetables. Through the years, new immigrants also added their own traditions for celebrating Thanksgiving.
At our house, if we have friends over for Thanksgiving, we roast a whole turkey and cook other accompaniments. On our own, we make a simpler dinner, but I make sure the table looks festive and special. We always have leftovers but we don't mind. So, we sometimes bake a ham, with vegetable bisque (asparagus, tomato or butternut), baked sweet potato (Hermann's specialty) and apple pie. Last year I baked a rolled turkey breast, sweet potato stacks and green beans on the side. Hermann made a good fresh cranberry relish that goes well with turkey and for dessert I baked apple tart.
- EASY DECORATING -
I love to cook and I also love decorating during the holiday season. Even if it's just the two of us, I always make our house festive. To do that, I browse craft stores (Michaels, Hobby Lobby) and collect "stuff" for my crafting and decorating. I also find stuff at Walmart, TJ Maxx and Ross, so you can really be creative with so many options the stores offer. You can easily go overboard, but I try not to. Besides, I love to re-purpose what I already have, mixing old and new and creating one of a kind creations. The example below is a centerpiece made out of old potpourri which scents are long past gone. Together with Fall color silk blooms, leaves and ribbons, I created a centerpiece that is easy, and does not cost much.
NOTE: I like table centerpieces that are low so they are not in the way when having a conversation across the table at dinner time. You do want to see who you are talking to without craning your neck around a vase of flowers.
Decorating on a budget is my motto. You can make your decoration beautiful without spending much, but you don't want it to look cheap either. Not everyone is into crafting I know, but crafts that you made will not only make you feel proud and happy but also make your decoration unique. It's not that hard if you have time.
Below are some of the crafts I made for Thanksgiving. Making napkin holders out of ribbons is the easiest project I ever made (picture No. 1). Picture No. 2 is a basket I bought and added some embellishments to make it unique. Picture No. 3 is one of many wreaths I created - I pretty much hang a wreath on every door we have. Sometimes I get ideas from browsing Pinterest, like the wooden pumpkins (picture No. 4) that I made several years ago (use your imagination).
NOTE: Glue gun and glue sticks are my best friends when it comes to crafting. I love decorating with ribbons as you can see.
Most of the year our mantel in the family room displays our collections, but it transitions during the holidays. The creative side of me comes out during Halloween (Check the link here), Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. The mantel is one of the focal points in the house and is usually decorated.
Not enough decorations? I use winter squash from our garden as well as part of my decor. I put them together in a basket plus add ribbon and some foliage for quite a nice table centerpiece.
Here, I just scattered the squashes around an elevated candle holder.
For outdoor decor, I made this Fall sign from an old board, spray-painted it orange and embellished it. Hermann helped me with this project. I added different colors of mums, and at other times some unique pumpkins and we have a sort of rustic Fall decor.
Check this short video for more photos.