Every year we host one of the major winter holidays at our home – either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Most often it’s Thanksgiving.    And wow.  Apparently I have not blogged this before?  Huh.

So the thing about this gathering…

It is, quite literally, a Feast.  Capital “F”.  And yes I send invites.  Via email – saves paper.  And trying to find stamps.

We started this tradition in 2005.  This will be the seventh Feast (one year we did it twice – Thanksgiving in Illinois at my mom’s house and Christmas in SD).  I’m not sure where the idea came from, although I’m sure it was mine.  Oh, I’m not trying to brag.  I’m just the only one nuts enough to think this would be cool.  I know how many we’ve had because one of my self imposed rules is that a dish cannot be repeated twice.  Nor a wine.  So I have a huge spreadsheet to track them.  (Creative side?  Meet Engineer side.)

(Clicky on the photo for a jumbo view.  If you want the details, or any of the recipes, leave a comment and I’d be glad to email them along.)

Five courses – appetizers (typically 3), soup, salad, dinner (turkey, gravy, stuffing, regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries), dessert (at least two…with ice cream).  And a wine for each course.  Although this year I decided to mix it up with a Gin Sling for the apps and spiked hot chocolate for dessert.  And of course there’s always sparkling fruit juice for the kiddos.

The group is typically at least 15 people or more.  The largest was 25.  And that was in our old house!  We start early.  We end late.  We generally just enjoy the day spending time with our family and friends, eating wonderful food, catching up on lost time, playing games, watching football, and yeah, getting a bit tipsy.  There’s only been one rejected recipe – a cranberry relish that tasted great but smelled exactly like Copenhagen.  But even this brought happy memories – it reminded everyone of Grandpa!

No, I don’t cook everything.  I make the menu.  Then I ask everyone to bring a dish or two.  It’s much more fun that way.

This year, I wanted to add a new tradition.  A way to capture the spirit of the season, along with some memories of the Feast.

Our Grateful Journal.

The idea is everyone will take a moment or two to write down something they are grateful for.  Healthy kids.  That we can all be together…whatever sparks their heart.  Before the Feast, I’ll add a piece of cardstock to one of the pages so we can add a group photo.  The idea came from Wondertime magazine a year or two ago (alas, they aren’t published anymore).  A family wrote they had a tradition of writing down the things they were grateful for on slips of paper all through the year, then on Thanksgiving they’d read them.  I’ve seen other versions along the way – a tablecloth that is written on every year.  More recently Becky Higgins grateful poster.

This is another crafty post!  Our Grateful journal started as a sketchbook.  I just added some scrapbook paper from Michaels to the cover, along with the word “grateful” printed in the Baskerville Old Face font.  The Boy enjoyed helping me slather the glue all over the cover.  Then he lost interest and decided he needed his own craft – cutting up the newspaper I was using to keep the glue off the new dining room table.

I can’t wait to see this book fill with our writing, our thoughts, our hearts.  Watching our kids handwriting grow.  Seeing what every one writes.  Remembering the folks who join us each year (and watching the kids actually grow!).  I think I’m going to love this new tradition almost as much as I love coming up with the menus and invites for the Feasts.