Thursday, November 7, 2019

Setting a Thanksgiving table with beauty and meaning

This past weekend Jim and I worked on the welcome message for Patrick's memorial Facebook page and I don't need to tell you how emotionally draining that was. I used to think that the most surreal and gut-wrenching thing I would ever do in my life was writing my child's obituary but it turns out when you're a grieving parent, that single pain-crazed obituary experience is only the beginning.

The thing is, even though I felt on the edge of tears that entire day I kept my feelings under tight control. Something that's not easy for me.

But we had dinner plans later in Long Beach with our dearest friends John and Kirsten and their son John, who went to kindergarten with Patrick. And I've figured out that if I can go three days without crying than my eyes look normal and I can dress up and at least feel sorta normal.

Which is actually what happened. It ended up being such a beautiful night and afterwards I felt replenished for a bit. Do you have people in your life that you've known for so long, that you can't remember a time when you didn't know them? Well that's how it is with them.

Ok. So you're probably wondering. Why am I telling you all this when you just stopped by to see a damn Thanksgiving table? 

Well. I wanted you to know that even though my heart is miles away from being able to host a Thanksgiving dinner anytime soon, I said "Yes" to Chloe when she asked me to join a group of bloggers showing Thanksgiving tablescapes, because if there's one thing you should do when you're going through a difficult time, it's find those moments that give you relief. And for me, that happens when I'm being creative. 

By the way, I'm showing you the world's easiest centerpiece. Mums stuck in-between pumpkins

This one took more time. First I filled this entire urn with green floral foam that I soaked. Then I started filling it up white roses, white hydrangeas, a few white chrysanthemums and pink berries. All courtesy of Trader Joes. 

After it was almost full, I clipped some ivy from the front yard and plugged the empty spaces with it. Added some cream and chocolate feathers into a few more gaps for some texture and tucked moss along the edge of the urn for a more finished look. 

I know this doesn't look like a typical Thanksgiving centerpiece, but I kept coming back to white, even when I tried to put those red Mums into it. 

I wish you could see this in person. It really is pretty. And when outside, the white roses have a buttery hue.

To be perfectly honest I've never-ever had a Thanksgiving dinner outside but since today was 74 degrees in Huntington Beach and since my dining room only gets natural light for short slivers of time during Fall, and since I didn't want to worry about taking photos in a dark dining room...well,

 welcome to my outdoor Thanksgiving dinner party.

These napkins are actually tan and white check but outdoors they look lighter. From Pottery Barn last season.

I have Thanksgiving dinnerware with the turkey on the plates but I prefer white plates these days. Maybe it's the memories that hurt and one day I'll feel different about bringing those dishes back out. Hard to know.

Instead of name cards which I've always enjoyed making, I thought I would try to do something different for this post and show you a sweet little gift for guests at each setting. 

thanksgiving a few years ago 

Rather than the typical "gratitude" or "gathering" word that is so often attached with Thanksgiving I decided to fill up jars with fresh thyme wrapped in parchment paper. And on each jar is the message I think we all need to remember: "Time is a gift" which is of course a play on the word thyme. 

I used both words to show you.

When you really think about it, isn't this the real meaning behind all the popular gathering signs and gratitude place cards? It's bringing awareness to this simple truth.

 Not only are these so sweet looking with that parchment paper but they smell delicious. 

I used vintage glasses with pretty etching for my votive candles, courtesy of a thrift store. But if I'd used something larger I would have added coffee beans at the bottom. Maybe a caramel flavored coffee bean would smell delish.

Here's my latest little addition to my tables. Miniature succulents...just spray the plastic containers metallic gold and place them around your cheese platter and they're guaranteed to make you smile.

Thank you for visiting today. Hopefully there's a few ideas you can use except the one about stuffing your feelings. 

I do want you to know this one truth. After trying to ignore my achy sadness that day, I woke up the next morning with a splitting headache, even after a wonderful dinner with friends. And this made total sense to me. 

Did you know Gestalt therapists believe headaches are actually pent-up tears? It's the idea that our bodies will always express what we're not saying. I've found this to be true for me, so please don't minimize your feelings. Whatever you're feeling, --especially if it's uncomfortable---it absolutely matters. And it's important for our entire health that we prioritize our inner life even more than all this external stuff. 

Good-bye for now friends. Be sure to check out my friends below for some more beautiful inspiration for your Thanksgiving table.

love to you all,






I'm also sharing this post with the friends at Imparting Grace.


The Little Yellow Corner Store said...

The beautiful nature elements to your table are outstanding, especially when the dining experience is outdoors. I love the individual thyme planters and your white rose centerpiece is gorgeous. It is as if I am attending a beautiful outdoor wedding. The hint of neutral colored gingham is perfect for a setting in nature. Your white stacked pumpkins contrast so lovely with the charm of your covered chairs. Casual, yet so elegant. Beautiful!

Chloe Crabtree said...

I LOVE that white pumpkin stack with the deep burgundy chrysanthemum blooms tucked between them! What an easy, and yet impressive centerpiece. The floral centerpiece you created is even more impressive. The leaves add just the right nod to late fall. The outdoor setting is fantastic!! Wouldn't that be the perfect spot for gathering friends and family for a special meal? Thank you for joining our hop! said...

Your outdoor setting is stunning Leslie, and the thyme favors are so appropriate for what you're going through and Thanksgiving...I lost an 18 year old son, so my heart does understand a bit of what you're going through. Having a creative outlet was a huge help to me...your flower creations are will be in my prayers throughout the holiday season,

Rita C at Panoply said...

Leslie, I find your expressions of both feelings through words and beauty through creative assemblage and photos one of the most real things in blogging. I really appreciate it. While I can't begin to even act like I know your personal journey, I recognize it from in-laws who've experienced the same. Time is certainly a gift, your table is beautiful, and your sentiment moving and meaningful. Thank you for letting us see your light through your darkness.

My thrift store addiction said...

Leslie, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know that can make the holidays bittersweet. I am so enamored with your beautiful floral arrangements. What a pretty table! Blessings, Cecilia @My Thrift Store Addiction

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

I am so sorry to hear you are grieving. Expressing yourself through words is very helpful. don't feel bad about that. i have to say your outdoor table is gorgeous. I do wish I could see it in person. The centerpiece is stunning. Such a thoughtful favor with the thyme on each place settings. A lovely view for this pretty table. The stacked pumpkins look great! A pleasure to join you on this tablescape blog hop.

Calypso In The Country said...

It warms my heart to know that being creative helps you deal with your sadness. It's so wonderful to have an outlet - and one that you are so good at! I love how your table turned out...I would eat outdoors everyday if I could. Those thyme bundles are just perfect and a great reminder to all of us. Time is a gift. Sending you love and support during these upcoming holidays. I could only imagine how hard it is. If it helps any, I want you to know that I am thinking of you!

Barbara Novello said...

I always look forward to your blog. I am so sad about your loss and praying your journey to recovery is fueled by the love of your family and friends including all of us that are here with you. Loved your style and your energy to share with us. Prayers always.

Wendy Johnson said...

I like your creativity but I wait dor your words partially because of the way you express your grief. My sister lost her only child in 2012 and I feel like I am feeling her pain when I read your words.

La Contessa said...

LOVE the THYME TRUE and everyone can use fresh HERBS!
Now, that bit about the HEADACHES and TEARS.....................that is so INTERESTING TO ME!ON MANY LEVELS!
Where can I read MORE about this?ANY suggestions!
YOU ARE A CREATIVE SOUL..........YOU Should be doing DISPLAYS somewhere like a NURSERY!

Melanie said...

Leslie, this is the most gorgeous tablescape and centerpieces I've ever seen. Everything looks like a magazine shoot. Are your table and chairs that are outside always out there - or did you move the furniture from the dining room outdoors? I am so envious of your warm weather. It is *freezing* here in northwest IL! It was only 21 degrees today.

Of course, thank you for sharing about Patrick and how you are feeling and coping through your grief journey. I hope you know you are always near in my heart, mind and prayers.


Sophie said...

Mums stuck in-between pumpkins... i chuckled right away after reading it. Perhaps cause it's too simple. Lol! There's beauty in simplicity. This is my kinda decor indeed. I must find some stackable pumpkins and fake flowers (so my cats won't eat it). I don't have people to invite but love decorating anyway. Like you said, creativity heals the soul. Thank you for sharing another awe-inspiring tablescape.

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Leslie, this is so lovely! I have an urn like yours and have never had a clue what to do with it, besides throw in ornaments or pinecones. Your arrangement is stunning...and I love the succulents, candles, and thoughtful place settings. You are so very creative! I think creativity feeds and comforts the soul, and am glad this project did that for you.
I had never heard that about headaches...and what a makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing with us, sweet friend! xoxo

Karen said...

We have close friends that have children that grew up with our children (adult children now). There is such a comfort when we're with them. They feel like family to us. I'm happy for you and your husband to have had such a nice dinner.
I absolutely love the mostly white arrangement. We've all embraced white pumpkins, why not white flowers?!

wyotlc said...

Your words and grace never fail to move me. I watch for your posts. This season I will give thanks for the blessings you share and remember you and your family and pray for peace for you all.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Leslie I love your outdoor Thanksgiving celebration. You always create the most beautiful tablescapes and I I would love to be a guest at any one of them. Flower arranging is not my forte and it is another one of yours, you should give tutorials on taking grocery store flowers and turning them into works are art.

I wondered how you would be feeling after reading that you hadn't cried for three days, that actually made me sad. Obviously I cannot speak to your pain as I have no experience or children but the one thing I have learned over the years is that you cannot hold in your feelings. Cry my friend, everyday if you feel like. Don't hold back to make other people feel better. I am sure that I am not telling you anything you haven't heard.

You are in my thoughts and my prayers and I pray that you have more moments of happiness and creativity.

xo Elizabeth

cindy hattersley design said...

Leslie you are the tablescape queen! This is one of the prettiest I have seen in quite awhile. So glad you are finding tablescaping therapeutic. They are wonderful.

Pam Richardson said...

Leslie, thank you for sharing your personal journey of grief. It will help others who are going through similar circumstances. Your creativity in the midst of sadness is remarkable. The outdoor table is most inviting and the floral centerpiece is quite amazing. I love the takeaway gifts of thyme, how clever. It is a pleasure to meet you and join with you this week on the blog hop!

michele said...

Meaningful and raw reflections just nourish my soul, Leslie, and this pocket of peace on the web always welcomes me to the feast. Thank you. For all the beauty. For bearing this pain. For welcoming us to thin places. For honoring what is holy. xox

Debbee said...

Leslie, my heart aches for you --- my deepest condolences for your loss. I just returned home from my adult son's surgery and first weeks home recovering. Now I'm counting my blessings. Hope you can find peace and comfort in the months ahead.

Your tablescape is gorgeous, yet warm and welcoming. I especially love the thyme favors at each place setting. And, that floral centerpiece with the feathers added is a stunner!

PS could you please update the link to my Pumpkin Patch --- right now it's going to last year's Horn of Plenty table. Thanks!

Katherines Corner said...

Your creative table is beautiful. I can only imagine how this bit of escapism is a comfort to you. I'm actually finding it difficult to write about your beautiful table when I know now of your profound and unimaginable loss. I encourage you to weep, to sob, to scream in your loudest voice. Release it all and know that you are loved and we pray fond memories will replace your grief.
The thyme gift is inspiring and I shared it on Pinterest separately from your lovely tablescape. It's nice you could create such a lovely table outside its cold here but I love the idea of a Thanksgiving meal shared outdoors. Hugs and prayers and it's a pleasure to hop with you.

Kristin White Arrows Home said...

What a beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your loss! Thank you for sharing your story though for all the ways it encourages and helps others! Your table is beautiful. I love the mums in the pumpkin idea too! The feathers coming out of your arrangement are beautiful. I love the way your outside table came together. I'm so glad you said yes to Chloe!

Shirley said...

Your Trader Joe flowers centerpieces is striking and the star of this beautiful tablescape! I so wish we had a Trader Joe in our town! Your table is simply gorgeous and even more so in your inviting outdoor setting. The Mums tucked in between the pumpkins is a nice added touch.
I am so sorry that you are having such an awful experience with the loss of your son. It is unimaginable. So glad you have such great friends who are there for you and that you did say Yes to sharing your Table styling talents with us. It is a pleasure to e-meet you and hop together. Happy Thanksgiving!

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