Calm and Comforting Holiday Hosting

Baby James is a month old today, and oh how sweet this first month has been! He is getting little rolls and nothing cold make me happier! I will be sharing his birth story soon, but I seem to be having difficulty finding enough uninterrupted time to write it : ).

We shared five simple ways to prepare for all your holiday hosting here, and since we’re all gathering in our home for Thanksgiving again, I’ve been doing a little more putzing around the house than usual. Moving a few things from room to room and picking up a couple new, inexpensive items help me savor the joy of preparing for guests. Tasseled throws, velvet pillows, candles that delight the senses, and specialty maple coffee help to warm up our home and make it a place of comfort.

Although keeping the décor and the traditions simple is key during this busy season, I try to make an effort to maintain enough routine and tradition that it’s motivating and inspiring to me and those that share our home. This special season of gathering with those we love is the perfect time to find joy in arranging cozy, spaces that are lovely and inviting.

We’ve all been most giddy and filled with excitement about cousins, siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents gathering in our home for the upcoming feast. We’ve also been taking time to write down reasons we are thankful and sharing gratitude to the Lord for his steadfast love fills our hearts and home with contentment.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

– Psalm 138

With love, Damaris

Advertisements

10 Favorite Thanksgiving Books

We’ve been reading about pumpkins and the changing leaves, busy squirrels and migratory paths. But apple harvests coming to an end and busy little squirrel friends storing away for the winter means it’s time to get out a new set of story books!

We purpose to make Thanksgiving a very treasured day, and enjoying these sweet books with the children is part of the anticipation and celebration of the holiday. These are the days to clasp a mug of warmed cider while cozied on a quilt in the living room with a stack of books.

Some of the books we recommend are from our own shelves – we visit them every year, and some are newly borrowed from the library.

The First Thanksgiving: A Counting Story moves along very quickly because it’s written in lively rhyming verse and vivid illustrations. The book explains the story of the preparations for the first Thanksgiving feast while counting 1-12. There are hidden surprises in the art and a bold turkey on every page! Do you have a sharp eye?

Sharing The Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story is a collection of paintings set in the 19th century that exude familial affection. The simple rhythmic four-line verse mirrors the ease in which this family works together to prepare their special Thanksgiving Day meal.

Saying Grace: A Prayer Of Thanksgiving is a journey back in time to the hardships and blessings of some of the first settlers. It’s the most delightful story of a young child’s faith and prayer as she recognizes God’s bounty.

Thanksgiving Day Alphabet is filled with historical facts about the special holiday. The plentiful scenes are painted in rich fall colors. Children will learn a treasure trove of details about the English settlers of 1620. Everyone will delight in the descriptions set to each letter of the alphabet.

The Story of the Pilgrims is a nice simplified version of how Thanksgiving started. The text is clear and plain which helps the little ones follow the story while focusing on the illustrations. Perfect for the preschool-aged children!

Squanto And The Miracle Of Thanksgiving is a favorite of the boys at our house! This book captures the remarkable and providential true story that so few people have ever heard. This book clearly depicts Squanto’s Christian faith and the religious roots of the holiday. The illustrations are realistic renderings which all ages will enjoy.

Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration offers the basic history behind Thanksgiving then explains how the holiday sill has meaning for us today. Recounting the difficulties of the Pilgrims and their gratefulness to God. The illustrations are old-fashioned with a wood-cut feel. A wonderful teaching tool! This Thanksgiving story is a classic read-aloud. It is a little long for one sitting, but certainly a cozy read. A great non-fiction introduction for little ones!

Molly’s Pilgrim is the heartwarming modern story of a Jewish family who have immigrated from Russia to escape religious persecution. Anyone who has had to move to a new place will understand the difficulties that Molly faces. This book has been the girls’ favorite read-aloud! They love glazing at the penciled illustrations! With a powerful message to live in peace an safety, this is a wonderful book for the Thanksgiving season!

A Cranberry Thanksgiving is a lighthearted and maybe silly story set in New England. It’s a cold and lonely cranberry farm at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving, the house is warm and full of tradition. It’s a fun holiday read and includes Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread recipe!

Thanksgiving: A Time To Remember is our family’s all-time favorite! We read short portions of this book at the dinner table everyday in November. This book refreshes our memory of the courage and sacrifice that the Pilgrims made and of God’s provision for them. It is a moving account of the Mayflower crossing and the first winter in the New World. This book will help you establish a tradition of sharing your gratefulness with one another at home. It encourages families to build a legacy of memories and thankfulness and celebrates faith, family, and freedom.

Every year we discover a new gem! What are some of your family’s favorite Thanksgiving books? Leave a comment sharing yours!

with love. Damaris


Wishing You A Happy Thanksgiving!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;

his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Tomorrow morning, as we sit around the quiet breakfast table feasting on praline baked french toast (skip the corn syrup) and listen to instrumental hymns of praise, we will be thankful. As we remember the Pilgrim’s faithfulness, courage, and sacrifice by reading excerpts of Thanksgiving: A Time To Remember, we will be thankful.

Over the years we have all memorized Psalm 100, and I expect we will say it together again. Finally, we’ll continue to build this tradition of sharing our gratefulness with one another and add our last tags on the Thanksgiving Tree. Amidst the succulent food, enjoying the day off work, family games and talks, we’ll seek to center around recognizing our God’s perfect provision for our family and His lavishing grace. Our desire is that our home and yours be filled with biblical thankfulness this holiday!

“…for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; …”

First Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1777

with love. Nathan and Damaris


Holiday Hosting: Five Ways To Prepare

We’re so excited about hosting Thanksgiving this year! Last year was the first time we all gathered in our home, and it filled the feast with more meaning than ever before. Of course, there’s no shortage of eating, and we always plan for a walk and for leftovers for days! We don’t get to see cousins but twice a year, so you best believe we’ll be savoring every morsel of time together!

The joy of preparing our hearts and our space happens long before they come through our door. Even as the table is set for the feast, it’s more than a cozy family gathering, but the knitting of hearts in gratefulness. Welcoming others into our home isn’t so much about the space, but about our readiness to prepare a place in our home and hearts.

As we plan for the upcoming holiday gathering in our crowded household, I was reminded of these five ways to help us prepare:

  1. Take time to fill your own soul so can give to others.

  2. Pray that we walk humbly so that our guests (family or friends) can see our failures and the all-sufficient grace of Christ.

  3. Pray that we may lighten someone’s load.

  4. Don’t grow weary in all the doing so we aren’t tempted to grumble. Remembering that serving others is the same as serving Him. (Matthew 25:31-46).

  5. Welcome them generously!

I have prayed for you as you prepare to open your home to family and friends, that everyone will leave deeply nourished beyond the feasting and aware of God’s abundance.

with love. Damaris


Thanksgiving Tree

I couldn’t wait to share with you our family’s favorite way to prepare for Thanksgiving! We have created and decorated a Thanksgiving Tree for the last 6 years, and it has been a meaningful visual reminder for our family and guests of the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Sharing the wonder of God’s good gifts is helping us

cultivate a heart of gratefulness in our home.

In early November, we begin by cutting small branches and arranging them in a vase or pitcher. We punch tags with this helpful tool (makes great gift tags too!) or you can use premade craft tags. Since our family creates this together, we write words of gratitude on the tags and hang them in the evenings when Nathan’s home. We record them daily as part of our family worship through November till Thanksgiving Day. In order for little hands to be able to decorate the tree, we just hang the written tags through the thin branches. It actually looks quite wonderful! I have seen them tide with twine through the punched holes to the tree, and it’s so lovely that way, too! Wouldn’t it make a meaningful centerpiece at the Thanksgiving table where guests could share their gratitude and add to the tree? All of us look forward to this simple tradition!

A Thanksgiving Tree can help to make us pause and reflect, remember and articulate. By daily recording God’s attributes and graces to us, we focus on the Giver – not only the gifts. It has been an extra joy to keep some of the tags after we’ve taken the tree down. It is so good for our hearts to read the praises written in years past and recount His great faithfulness!

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;

praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

– Psalm 150

with love. Damaris


November Homebody

November air is chilled with the breath of coming winter. We have been waking up to a frost-covered meadow, and it’s magical to see it glisten in the morning’s first light. Everyday, the children look closely at the frost hoping it’s snow, but soon enough, my loves, soon enough. Crowded days of school go swiftly by, and our moments are full. November has also brought evenings of cozy reading aloud while drinking spiced tea. Does this time of the year turn you into a homebody too?

A good day is a slow one at home with a little nesting and a little baking. Time to read and time to make is what has been filling our November so far. The children helped put this list together of our favorite activities:

  1. Collecting leaves and pressing them

  2. Enjoying a bonfire for roasting marshmallows

  3. Taking a leisurely drive to see the colorful trees

  4. Making caramel brulee lattes: 1/4 cup strong coffee, 1 hot (steamed) milk, 2 tablespoons vanilla syrup, 2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping.

  5. Making a pumpkin pie

  6. Harvesting our autumn garden: butternut and buttercup squash, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and kale – always more kale.

  7. Adding Thanksgiving books to the fall book basket. You can read about our favorite Thanksgiving books here.

  8. Making applesauce and serving it hot

  9. Making the best apple cake with the apples we preserved

  10. Making lots of homemade hot chocolate

  11. Looking forward to spending time with cousins for the holidays and dreaming up a delicious menu

  12. Taking turns adorning the Thankful Tree (full blog post coming tomorrow!)

    As November’s autumnal splendor swiftly fades into all shades of pale, let’s reserve a slow day at home and savor the small slices of life that make us smile.

    with love. Damaris


    10 Favorite Thanksgiving Books

    We’ve been reading about pumpkins and the changing leaves, busy squirrels and migratory paths. But apple harvests coming to an end and busy little squirrel friends storing away for the winter means it’s time to get out a new set of story books! We purpose to make Thanksgiving a very treasured day, and enjoying these sweet books with the children is part of the anticipation and celebration of the holiday. These are the days to clasp a mug of warmed cider while cozied on a quilt in the living room with a stack of books. Some of the books we recommend are from our own shelves – we visit them every year, and some are newly borrowed from the library.

    The First Thanksgiving: A Counting Story moves along very quickly because it’s written in lively rhyming verse and vivid illustrations. The book explains the story of the preparations for the first Thanksgiving feast while counting 1-12. There are hidden surprises in the art and a bold turkey on every page! Do you have a sharp eye?

    Sharing The Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story is a collection of paintings set in the 19th century that exude familial affection. The simple rhythmic four-line verse mirrors the ease in which this family works together to prepare their special Thanksgiving Day meal.

    Saying Grace: A Prayer Of Thanksgiving is a journey back in time to the hardships and blessings of some of the first settlers. It’s the most delightful story of a young child’s faith and prayer as she recognizes God’s bounty.

    Thanksgiving Day Alphabet is filled with historical facts about the special holiday. The plentiful scenes are painted in rich fall colors. Children will learn a treasure trove of details about the English settlers of 1620. Everyone will delight in the descriptions set to each letter of the alphabet.

    The Story of the Pilgrims is a nice simplified version of how Thanksgiving started. The text is clear and plain which helps the little ones follow the story while focusing on the illustrations. Perfect for the preschool-aged children!

    Squanto And The Miracle Of Thanksgiving is a favorite of the boys at our house! This book captures the remarkable and providential true story that so few people have ever heard. This book clearly depicts Squanto’s Christian faith and the religious roots of the holiday. The illustrations are realistic renderings which all ages will enjoy.

    Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration offers the basic history behind Thanksgiving then explains how the holiday sill has meaning for us today. Recounting the difficulties of the Pilgrims and their gratefulness to God. The illustrations are old-fashioned with a wood-cut feel. A wonderful teaching tool! This Thanksgiving story is a classic read-aloud. It is a little long for one sitting, but certainly a cozy read. A great non-fiction introduction for little ones!

    Molly’s Pilgrim is the heartwarming modern story of a Jewish family who have immigrated from Russia to escape religious persecution. Anyone who has had to move to a new place will understand the difficulties that Molly faces. This book has been the girls’ favorite read-aloud! They love glazing at the penciled illustrations! With a powerful message to live in peace an safety, this is a wonderful book for the Thanksgiving season!

    A Cranberry Thanksgiving is a lighthearted and maybe silly story set in New England. It’s a cold and lonely cranberry farm at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving, the house is warm and full of tradition. It’s a fun holiday read and includes Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread recipe!

    Thanksgiving: A Time To Remember is our family’s all-time favorite! We read short portions of this book at the dinner table everyday in November. This book refreshes our memory of the courage and sacrifice that the Pilgrims made and of God’s provision for them. It is a moving account of the Mayflower crossing and the first winter in the New World. This book will help you establish a tradition of sharing your gratefulness with one another at home. It encourages families to build a legacy of memories and thankfulness and celebrates faith, family, and freedom.

    Every year we discover a new gem! What are some of your family’s favorite Thanksgiving books? Leave a comment sharing yours!

    with love. Damaris