Tag Archives: turkey

Portraits of Gratitude 2014


There’s a certain degree of perfection that people try to attain as the holidays approach. The perfect Thanksgiving meal, the best presents, the ultimate in outdoor Christmas light decorations. And I’ll admit I fall prey to it just as much as the next Joe. I find myself lured by the Siren’s call. The one that insists that everything must be homemade to be acceptable. Make your own butter! Needlepoint that pillow! Craft your own Thanksgiving centerpiece from fishing line and dried cranberries! And sometimes I succeed, patting myself on the back as I create my own Thanksgiving table runner from ribbon and construction paper. And other times I fail miserably, as evidenced by the burnt homemade granola bars now lining the bottom of my garbage can. And the pressure of being perfect, of creating the ultimate moment for your family is, dare I say, exhausting. And virtually impossible.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I feel like there is also tremendous pressure to be as grateful as you possibly can. Of savoring each and every moment of the past year and never, ever forgetting to be appreciative and humbled by the bounty of our lives. And as much as I wish I could, I just can’t seem to find the energy to be grateful all the time. I mean, I wish I could. I wish I could be one of those amazing people who go through every second of every day soaking up the wonder of life and saying little prayers of gratitude to every flower, every tree, every moment of sweetness. But I’m tired, people. And I find it almost impossible to feel grateful when I’m scraping doggie doo-doo from the bottom of my son’s tennis shoes. “Isn’t it wonderful that he had so much fun that he walked though poo without noticing! I am grateful for those small moments of happiness!” Nope. It’s just poop on a shoe. I don’t mean to say that I don’t experience moments of great thankfulness, in which I am literally overwhelmed by the beauty and sweetness of my life and the people in it. I do. And I cry over it quite often. But it’s just not every second of every day. At some point I think you have to put the grateful voice on mute in order to get the laundry done , pluck the gray hairs, and start all over again tomorrow. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be tired and cranky and ungrateful…just as long as, occasionally, you turn the volume up on that little voice that’s telling you to stop and put down the fabric softener and the tweezers and remember that even though we may be baffled by the complexities of life, at the rhyme and reason for the events that unfold before us, we can be mindful of the wonder inherent in the journey. My life is messy. It’s loud and frustrating and beautiful and sad and outrageously funny. And I wouldn’t change anything about it. But in loving my life as much as I do, there comes a freedom to be irritated by it. To loathe making lunches every morning. To cringe at the urine lurking behind the boys’ toilet. To roll my eyes each and every time my husband rearranges the dishwasher with the precision of an engineer. I think we work hard enough that we’re allowed to sigh occasionally out of complete frustration, while never forgetting how lucky we are to be irritated by anything at all. For it is in loving something so completely and so generously that we are able to feel the flip side of it, and yet still continue making the lunches, and cleaning up the pee and watching the gray hairs accumulate like a badge of honor.

That said, and in the spirit of last year’s post, I give you my 2014 Portraits of Gratitude…

I am eternally grateful that I married this guy…

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And that I can easily drive and see a place that looks like this:

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That, despite the distance, my children can have friends like this:

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And that this coffee mug exists…

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For letters like this (please note President Taft trapped in the bathtub)…

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For these two amazing, funny, crazy, inspiring boys of mine

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Who send me texts like this

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And for people who write books like this

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And students who make art like this

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And this

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And who never let me forget that I am learning from them

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For a small Beastie

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And a thespian

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That this guy picked me up from the airport

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When I got to fly across the Pond and drink tea with my dear friend

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And go back to the one place in my life that truly changed who I am

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For mother and grandmothers all rolled up into one

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For furry things

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And furrier things

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I am grateful for kitchens

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And for the friends who cheered me on as I read my heart out

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And for jumping in, white bra and all, without a single moment’s hesitation

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Let’s all give ourselves a break this Thanksgiving and aim less for perfection, and more for perfect chaos. For though we grumble and grimace, our lives are full of everything we can handle. And with each new memory, whether joyous or heartbreaking, comes a firmer ground on which to stand. (Hopefully with no dog poo on it).

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Happiness is a Button Turkey


I figured it was high time to bring out the Thanksgiving decorations. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving gets the short end of the drumstick when it comes to pure volume of decorations.  But what it lacks in volume, it certainly makes up for in quality. For, of all of the holiday-based school art projects, the Turkey Day creations are, by far, my favorite.

I bring you, Exhibit A:  “Pine Cone Turkey with Mae West Feathers.” Why don’tcha come up and see me sometime?

Exhibit B: “Handprint Turkey with Hat.”

Exhibit C: “What I’m Thankful For Pilgrim” – please do read the fine print on this one. At the time, my three year old was apparently most thankful for chicken breasts.

Exhibit D: “The Milk Carton Mayflower” for those apparently non-lactose intolerant pilgrims

And, finally, I bring you this years Exhibit E: “Button Turkey.” My kindergartener was tasked with decorating a paper turkey with anything he wanted: crayons, paints, feathers – and my son, a man after my own heart, chose buttons.

Sometimes there’s nothing more wonderful or important than sitting down with my five year old and making a turkey out of buttons. Luckily, my son was able to find a button in the shape of a hat to really highlight this turkey’s rakish good looks.

I know full well that I will be that mother who consistently breaks out the art projects from years gone by as a form of holiday decoration. And I will blow the dust off of the Milk Carton Mayflower each Thanksgiving. And the Dinner Plate Heart (don’t ask) each Valentine’s Day. And the Athletic Sock Snowman each Christmas.  And I will smile at the time gone by and the small hands that made each treasure .

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wrapping paper runner


uccelli wrapping paper

seeing as i just went to home goods to try to find a thanksgiving centerpiece, and all they had were santas and reindeer (not a turkey in sight!), i think i might just put those scissors skills of mine to good use and make a table runner to complement my tablecloth. i got inspired yesterday when i was at a really cute store in berkeley called “castles in the sky” and they had these gorgeous reams of italian wrapping paper. got me thinking about creating a table runner with wrapping paper and ribbon.  so, today i’m heading to the container store (which has the BEST wrapping paper around, in my opinion) and starting my creation. my thinking is a long runner and then i’ll cut holes along both sides with a hole punch and then run grosgrain ribbon through them like laces…wish me luck! i’ll post updates…

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