By Janell Oakes and Rondi Davis
Dec 28, 2005, 12:38
  These days, there is so much to do and so little time to do it. It’s as if someone pushed the fast forward button on our lives. We all hunger for more meaningful time to spend with loved ones but are often at a loss as to how to make it happen. Often, it’s the simplest of gestures that turn out to be the most rewarding. An afternoon walk in the woods was the catalyst for one of my family’s favorite traditions.

Celebrating the season allows me to connect with family and friends. And, Thanksgiving is no exception. Listen to the sounds of the season. Dried leaves rustle under foot; birds call, and squirrels chatter while collecting nuts. As Thanksgiving approaches, there is something almost instinctual about our desire to make the most of the last days of temperate weather, stock up on autumn’s colorful offerings, and count our blessings. Kids toss armfuls of leaves into the air and watch the golden shapes catch the wind. The air is crisp as the last lingering days of Indian summer slip away.

When my children were little, pockets full of colored leaves and acorns made it into our house for decoration. My girls have grown now. But, our family still celebrates, much as the first settlers did, by giving thanks for Nature's harvest.

To bring a little bit of autumn indoors, each year at Thanksgiving my family and friends help us create a wreath by writing what they are thankful for on brightly colored leaves. Every member of the family contributes to this beautiful wreath. For us, it has become a lasting tradition and a concrete and visual way to put meaning back in the holidays.

This Thanksgiving, try making a gratitude wreath of your own.

18-inch diameter straw wreath
Fall leaves
1 or 2 metallic paint pens
3 1/2-yards of 1/4-inch elastic
1 straight pin


1. Fill a large grocery sack with sturdy fall leaves.

2. As a base, use an 18-inch diameter straw wreath.

3. Wrap the wreath with the elastic. Start by securing one end of the elastic to the top of the wreath with a long straight pin. Wrap the elastic around the wreath at 3-inch intervals. The elastic should be snug against the straw, but not too tight. Once you have gone all the way around the wreath, tie the ends of the elastic together.

4. Using a paint pen on the leaves, have each member of the family write down what they are most thankful for.

5. Starting at the top and working clockwise, tuck the stems of two or three leaves into each band of elastic. Try to arrange the leaves so that no elastic or straw shows. This wreath should take about 15 minutes to construct.

We leave a basket of leaves near the door, and on Thanksgiving Day, all of our guests add their blessings to our wreath. By dinner time, my crimson wreath is full of good wishes to hang on the front door. Everyone who enters our house feels welcome. The top leaf is an elegant reminder. It simply says, “Good Friends.”

Janell Oakes and Rondi Davis are co-authors of the award winning book, Together: Creating Family Traditions. They want to give you the most important gift you can give your family. You can be a part of an irresistible offer available for one day. http://www.TogetherCreatingFamilyTraditions.com

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