Before moving on to the winter holidays, I wanted to share some pictures from the Thanksgiving garland I made for our table. My mother’s entire family met out in Charlottesville, Virginia this year for Thanksgiving at my Aunt’s house. She lives on a large horse farm nestled at the foot of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. We were all assigned our tasks for the Thanksgiving feast, and mine was to decorate the table. Rather than drive into town to buy some flowers for centerpieces, I decided it would be more fun for us to forage anything we could find from the farm and create a garland. To me, this idea was far more seasonal, local, meaningful and (hopefully) more beautiful!
A few of us set off on Thanksgiving morning to take cuttings from whatever we found. Fortunately both my Aunt and the former owner were avid gardeners and had all sorts of gardens around the farm. There were some gorgeous nandina bushes with the most amazing colored leaves and lush red clumps of berries.
Then, of course, I gathered lots of incredible boxwood (which was so full and gorgeous compared to what I often get when I order it in to the shop).
We then headed down to the lower hay field to hunt for bittersweet in the woods. Here is a picture of my Aunt, who you will note is still in her P.J.’s, which cracked me up! The best part was that we hit the jackpot and found 3 different vines to borrow from.
On our adventure we also found some privet berries (dark blue ones), bright red winterberries, camelia foliage, magnolia leaves, and nice fragrant cedar branches. We filled up the minivan and headed home.
I set to work grouping little bundles of greenery and berries and wiring them on to a length of twine to create the garland. (If you want to know how to make a garland, stay tuned as we will be offering a holiday garland class soon!). We got out a bunch of my grandmother’s brass candlesticks and tucked them amidst the long garland. It looked lush while still allowing people to easily see over it, so as not to impede conversation at the table. My daughter took the loose, left over magnolia leaves and used them as place tags by simply writing names on them with a sharpie. We also used some leftover sprigs to tuck under the decorative turkey for the kids table.
Here are a few pictures of us sitting down to dinner and then of dessert lined up on the table afterwards. It was a lovely, candlelit meal with all of us together enjoying stories and a delicious spread of food that everyone helped to make. It was a particularly special Thanksgiving as my grandparents are in their 90’s and almost all of their descendants traveled from coast to coast to be together. There was so much to be thankful for; our hearts were as full as our stomachs by the end of the night. As I head into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I take a few minutes to fondly look back on Thanksgiving and to count all the many blessings in my life.