By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
When I was a child, Thanksgiving was a huge production. It was always held at my grandparents’ home and included a vast array of extended family, including second and third cousins.
Beyond the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, there was the atmosphere and family fun.
The colors of fall are the perfect palette for Thanksgiving décor. Use tons of soft orange, warm yellow, cranberry red and earthy brown to decorate your home.
I usually craft my own centerpiece to grace my Thanksgiving table. Because this display is made mostly from fresh food, you will need to put it together as close to dinnertime as possible.
Almost instant centerpiece
First, I take a 9-inch oval glass dish (you can choose any kind of clear container) and lay down a bed of crispy kale leaves. I like to use kale because the leaves have such “character.” Next, I nestle small orange and white pumpkins randomly throughout the display. Then, I add seasonal vegetables, such as apples, radishes and eggplants.
I like to include interesting looking items like whole, unshelled walnuts and Brazil nuts, as well as fresh cranberries.
Sometimes I will use little “mounds” of rolled-up paper towels under the bed of kale to create “levels” and more visual interest in my display.
Use bundles of fresh herbs, such as rosemary and sage, to fill in any gaps. Surround with more pumpkins and small yellow and orange votive candles. Voila! Instant centerpiece.
Other decorating ideas include the use of colorful and unique gourds in different size baskets and the use of candles in fall colors and scents — pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie and cranberry.
Items to handcraft your own wreaths, table runners, basket displays and other fall décor items can be found throughout the Santa Clarita Valley at various craft and fabric stores.
In addition, it is holiday boutique season. Many of the holiday boutiques in the Santa Clarita area offer handcrafted items for your seasonal decorating needs.
Thanksgiving is family fun time. Instead of letting the kids sit around and stare at a screen, why not suggest a few of these family fun activities.
Take a hike at Vasquez Rocks. The autumn lighting is beautiful on the rocks this time of year. Take some time between Thanksgiving preparations or Black Friday madness and enjoy some time with nature. Vasquez Rocks is located at 10700 Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce, 91350.
While you slave away preparing your annual Thanksgiving meal, why not get the kids together and have them each pick out 10 items from your pantry or the store to donate to the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry. This all reinforces the “reason for the season” and reminds everyone of the abundance we all have.
Food donations can be dropped off Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. There also is a drop box located at the rear of the pantry in the alley between 4th and 5th streets. The pantry is located at 24133 Railroad Ave., Newhall, (661) 255-5001.
Go to your nearest park and play touch football, soccer, tag, hide-and-seek or Frisbee catch. Just get outside with the kids and do something that involves running around and taking in some fresh air.
Create a family Thanksgiving journal. Buy a sturdy, thick notebook and have everyone write down what they are thankful for this year. Keep the notebook where you can find it and do the same thing next year, and the year after. It creates a book of thanks that will become a family heirloom.
Have the kids interview their grandparents and extended family members to learn more about theirs — and yours — family history. Find out how your grandparents celebrated Thanksgiving, and what they did for fun before all the mobile electronics we have. Learn more about the family tree.
Have the kids help decorate the Thanksgiving table. They can make names cards and colorful placemats.
Whatever you chose to do, do it as a family and make some memories for next year.