Despite the struggles and hardships last month's hurricane caused, the month of November serves as a daily reminder to count our blessings, both at home and beyond. The onslaught and aftermath of the storm banded families and united the community in ways that strengthened the underlying fibers of our close-knit population.
Use this month to acknowledge and give thanks for the countless blessings of life - little treats and large ones, in calm, during storm and everything in between. Celebrate life; celebrate family. Give thanks in all circumstances, and party with the people in your family group.
Take a Hike Day - Check the weather forecast - fall in the Boro brings questionable temperatures, at best - and don shorts and T-shirts, raincoats and galoshes or jackets and gloves for a family hike to take in the beauty of autumn. Carry along a zippered plastic bag for collecting and gather fallen leaves of all shapes, sizes and colors.
After a long and healthy hike, lay out the collected leaves on old newspapers. Use a foam craft brush to paint a thin layer of decoupage, found in the craft section, onto one side of each leaf. Allow to dry for several hours. When it is no longer sticky to the touch, flip each leaf and paint the other side. Use them to decorate the table for the holidays.
Deviled Egg Day - Hard-boil enough eggs for each person to have three or four. Deviled eggs refrigerate nicely and make a great snack or lunchtime treat for another day.
When the eggs are completely cooled, peel carefully. Slice each egg lengthwise and scoop out the yellow center of each one. Place the cooked yolks into a plastic bowl and smash with a fork. Stir in mayonnaise, a little at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency. Season with a dab of salt and pepper.
Fill the crevices of the egg white slices with the yolk and mayo mixture. Then provide several options, like a deviled egg topping bar, for family members to top their egg pieces. Some suggestions for toppings are pickled relish, minced pimentos, minced jalapeños, diced apple bits, ham shavings and cooked bacon bits.
While nibbling on the tasty eggs, read aloud the book by Susan McElroy Montanari, "My Dog's a Chicken," to find out how Lula Mae gets creative to satisfy her desire for a puppy.
National Author's Day - Speaking of authors and children's books, select a new book by a favorite author or pick an unfamiliar one to try out, and plan to read the book over the Thanksgiving holidays. Read aloud each night and talk about your favorite parts of the book. Go online to find more about the author, and consider writing him or her a letter by way of the publishing house's address. Authors love to hear from kids and oftentimes will respond with a fun letter in return!
World Accountant Day - Count your blessings and count your coins! Talk as a family about a new budget for next year. Figure ways to save more by cutting back, and plan something special to do with the excess.
Empty the coin jar and search for the oldest coin, the newest coin and a coin stamped with each family member's birth year. Did you find a wheat penny? How many states did you find in the quarter collection? Do you know what a numismatist is? Take up the hobby of numismatics and spend a few of the plentiful coins, not the rare ones, on a family treat.
Thanksgiving - Several days before the turkey feast, gather the family to make placemats to use for the Thanksgiving meal. To create the turkey's body, let each person trace the bottom of his or her shoe onto brown construction paper; a tennis shoe works well. Cut out the shape and, applying glue only to the center, attach onto a large sheet of construction paper.
Let each family member trace and cut out both hands on his or her favorite color of construction paper, one pair for each person in the family. Pass around the handprint turkey "feathers" so that each person in the family has a pair of hands from every family member. Glue the feathers in place around the turkey's body, the larger part of the shoeprint. Add facial features and feet cut out of construction paper, then use contact paper to cover each person's placemat. Voila!
Throughout the month, tally a list of treats and blessings. Talk about the good in every day. Stay in thankful mode this season so that the gratitude attitude spills over into next month and next year. There's so much to be grateful for! Have a grand and glorious November.
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.