Following the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning we had 52 over here for dinner.
They brought ALL the food, we just brought the place to gather…and my cousin and I (mostly her) set up all the tables…
…along with our cute girls who did all the name tags:

Sam (Dave’s cousin’s wife who was staying with us who is also my good friend so to me she’s my cousin too) is so great at decorating and did all these centerpieces.

Finishing touches to the food prep:

Here’s where the teenagers and kids sat:

The married couples sat here:

…with a few little kids to join them.  (I decided to have a couple of the little kids at each table so that the big kids could help take care of them while the adults talked.)

We made a funny configuration of tables so we could get all the adults together like we did last year.  This is after a few left, but I wanted to have a picture to remember…everyone expressed something this year has given them a new appreciation for.

Mine was having a missionary out.  I really thought I might wither away and die when Max was leaving but it’s has been a pretty amazing adventure after all.  I also got a little teary-eyed with gratitude for all their Turkey Trot help.  So lucky to have this army of helpers!

After dinner…

One of my favorite moments of the whole evening was when our friends from Hungary came to join us for dessert.  My friend Edit brought her parents who speak Romanian and no English.

Look at them up there.  The woman on the left and they guy next to me…do they not just shine with light?  They were so beautiful from the inside and it’s hard to explain but it was the BEST feeling in the world to sit there and actually be able to have a [very fragmented sometimes needing to call their daughter to help] conversation with them.  I SPOKE ROMANIAN!!  It was kind of exhilarating!  Not sure if that’s because I was speaking Romanian or because they were just glowing with so much goodness trying to help me through all the words I was stumbling over, but I just loved that little corner of the evening with all my heart.
It was so interesting to pull out a map and have them show me their part of Romania that used to be Hungary and to hear their perspective.  I asked what people there thought about our crazy election over here and I felt like he (Edit’s dad) was speaking to my heart when he said something along the lines of “people’s goodness has to come from within, no matter who their leader is, we need to reach out and help each other sometimes in spite of our government.”  It was like we were just right in sync because that’s so how I feel.
Our Thankful Tree was a little sparse this year.
Not for lack of gratitude, just for lack of energy and time to keep everyone going on those leaves!
But it will suffice 🙂

Some close-ups…

(Leo is Lucy’s “pet” stuffed lion who is basically part of the family.)
Speaking of that Max (what Lu wrote in that last picture), he was over in Taiwan having his own kind of Thanksgiving at KFC with his companion:


He says he’s at one of the happiest times of his mission right now and his letters, although short, convey that excitement.

And that’s a Thanksgiving wrap!

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  1. Hi Shawni. Could you please write something about the Chinese saying that is on your dinning room wall? Is it custom made? What does it mean? It looks gorgeous 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Hi Gordana, that translates to say "LOVE MORE" in Chinese, which is a phrase really emotionally tied into our family. Dave's business partner over there had it painted for us (we had been looking and trying to figure it out when we lived there).

  2. Looks like a fabulous Thanksgiving! Being from Sweden, I have to ask why you have a Swedish flag on the wall? Is there a specific reason or just a design choice? 😉 Thanks!!

  3. Hi Shawni,

    I'm a long-time reader of your wonderful blog (probably about 10 years?), and want to thank you for your uplifting, courageous writing. My children are about a year younger than yours, and it has really helped me through these years to see your example and ideas. Also it has helped me with the mom-emotions to read your thoughts about the growing up and missions and college and issues in high school, etc. Thank you so much!

    We've adopted several of your family traditions, but one of my favorites is the leaves on the thankful tree for writing what we're grateful for!

    This year I found a lovely kit for doing this, which is fantastic because it saves cutting out all the leaves and we can put all our energy into writing on them! 🙂 It comes with a high-quality plastic tree poster (watercolor done by an actual artists), and a marker and a pack of 100 sticky note leaves and even the foam strips to hang it to your wall or door.

    Are you interested in trying this out and then sharing on your blog what you thought? Maybe y'all would miss your lovely homemade leaves (they do add to the charm :), but if you'd like to do this, I can offer you an affiliate deal as well as a discount for your readers. I recently started selling them in my online shop (

    Thank you again for all your beautiful work and making this uplifting space on the web!


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