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For me Thanksgiving isn't one day of the year it's every day of the year. Each time I write in my gratitude journal. I see a longer and longer list of lifetime blessings that I've received. Today I look back with gratitude to see that I am truly blessed.

For the past several years I've written a Thanksgiving article that I read to family and friends right after they've had two or three or sometimes even four helpings of everything I set out on the buffet table. I have a captive audience. I love it! As much as I'd love to have you all over to my home for Thanksgiving Dinner at 5:00 P.M., I'm sure my home is not large enough to hold all of you. I can however, share this year�s article with you this way. Enjoy! May you all have a blessed, joyful and simply abundant Thanksgiving. May you also keep and hold the spirit of Thanksgiving in your hearts each and every day of the year. Even if it is July, it's 98 degrees outside and you're sitting on a park bench, on your lunch hour, dreaming of Thanksgiving Day.

Even though you're reading this long before Thanksgiving Day, we celebrate life and all four seasons of the year with our favorite foods. It's a golden thread that runs flawlessly and seamlessly through the tapestry of our lives. With each new season a new food creates it's own enduring memory. Whatever heritage and traditions your family has practiced for many generations and brings each and every Thanksgiving I encourage you to make it especially memorable by adding one or two new side dishes each year to your Thanksgiving menu. This year I've added garden fresh green beans with bacon and fluffy whipped potatoes to my Thanksgiving Day buffet table.

This year I thought while sitting on a park bench on a very hot and humid day in July, I think it was at least 98 degrees that day, that there are four seasons and foods that make each one of them memorable. In the spring we like to have cold ham and chicken salad sandwiches, tomato soups made with from our own tomatoes picked fresh from the garden. In the summer time it's fried chicken, watermelon, potato salad, buttermilk biscuits, baseball games, hamburgers hot dogs, back yard barbecues, old fashioned lemonade, ice cream and ice tea. Anything to help us cool off from summers harshest heat. In the wintertime when it's cold and snowy outside we make big mugs of old fashioned hot cocoa topped with fluffy marshmallows, roast chestnuts and popcorn in the fireplace. We make hearty pastie soups; stews and casserole's to keep us warm and cozy all winter long. In the fall apples, pumpkins, squashes, gourds, and leaves that are every color of the rainbow spectrum, are everywhere waiting to be turned into holiday pies and decorations for the Thanksgiving table. Food and music are the melodies and harmonies on the soundtracks of our lives. With them our families and friends we create Thanksgiving Memories for All Seasons.

This Thanksgiving Day make Gratitude the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table. Take a moment to notice all the abundance and joy you have around you. Notice your family, friends and loved ones that you've gathered around you this Thanksgiving Day. Stop and give thanks for your warm home, the work you for yourself and for others. Count all the blessings you've received not only this Thanksgiving Day but every day of the year. Take a yearlong break from whining and complaining about the things you don't have in your life. Notice that you have abundance, joy, and a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. You've always had these rich and abundant blessings in your life. You simply may not have noticed them until now. For me Thanksgiving isn't one day of the year it's every day of the year. Each time I write in my gratitude journal. I see a longer and longer list of lifetime blessings that I've received, not only on this Thanksgiving Day but every day of the year.

An extra special Thanksgiving Memory and tradition was created in 1947 while my Grandparents were driving through Louisville, Kentucky right after Thanksgiving on one of my Grandfather's business trips. That night at dinner they were served what the hotel calls "Hot Brown". My Grandmother loved it so much she asked how it was made. Ever since that Thanksgiving Day to this, my Grandmother or myself has made "Hot Brown" the day after Thanksgiving for our entire family. Making "Hot Brown" is actually embarrassingly easy. The day after Thanksgiving make one more pan of my perfect southern buttermilk cornbread. Then warm up your gravy and turkey slices. First, place a great big piece of corn bread, fresh and very hot from the oven on your plate, followed by two or three slices of turkey and then slather on the gravy. If you have any room left warm up the razzelberry, cherry and apple pies, mashed potatoes and green beans. Make a big pot of coffee, or tea, to go with it and enjoy! By the way if you're wondering, yes the Brown Motel is still in business and still serving "Hot Brown" every Thanksgiving.

So I warn you now, if you find yourself sitting on a park bench, on your lunch hour, on a hot summers day in July when its 98 degrees outside, wondering what you were going to write about Thanksgiving this year, or you may, as a famous song writer once did, find yourself sitting by a swimming pool daydreaming on a hot summers afternoon in California. You too may receive the inspiration for your own Thanksgiving Memories For All Seasons article to share with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day, or you may as a famous song writer did, write a song to share with the world each and every holiday season. And who knows next summer you too may find yourself dreaming of a White Christmas.

Welcome to the ToolBox For Life, Thanksgiving/Christmas homepage. I'd like to wish you all a very abundant,joyous and very blessed Thanksgiving. May your lives be blessed with good books, good friends, good things, music, laughter, romance, personal success, personal growth, travel, joy, gratitude, love, abundance and true wealth of all kinds. For those of you who may not have even made up a grocery list just yet here are two emergency links to help you out.

Let's face it, the days right after Christmas and New Years Day are depressing. According to the calendar the holidays are over. Not so around here. It's always Christmas and Thanksgiving. This is my way of making Christmas and Thanksgiving last all year long. This year purchase small inexpensive gifts for yourself that reflect each season. In the spring time buy something light and airy. In the summer time get something cool and refreshing. In the fall get something autumnal, cozy and warm. In the winter time make it comforting and cuddly. May I suggest a cuddly Teddy BEAR. Keep these very special gifts, and a copy of Simple Abundance hint hint, tucked away so that no one else knows they're around. And open one on the 25th of each month, or on those cold rainy dreary days when you really need a very special gift for yourself.









"If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things, if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will have time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the Shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child, as did Mary? For each one of us there is a desert to travel, a star to discover, and a being within ourselves to bring to life." AUTHOR UNKNOWN

Christmas is a time to be remembered. The family is gathered together and relatives drop in constantly. Traditionally this is a time for singing and dancing, for celebrating the old year's ending and exchanging wishes for great joy and good fortune and blessings in the year to come. Families gather before tables laid with the traditional Christmas feast. Joyful children anticipate the decorated tree and long-awaited gifts. Friends sit by the fire roasting chestnuts, singing carols, or reminiscing over Christmases gone by.

In the wintertime the brilliant colors of fall have faded away. No longer do we see old oak, maple and hickory trees that have burst into every color of the rainbow as we drive along country lanes and old dirt roads. This time of year we bring the brilliant Christmas colors of red, gold and green inside our warm cozy homes. We go out into the woods and chop down the tallest Scotch pine we can possibly fine and bring it's splendid beauty indoors. This holiday season and every holiday season, we run to our closets and bring out at least 100 boxes of decorations that have been gathering dust since last Christmas. We then take each cherished red, gold and green hand blown glass ornament, that we purchased from, a long since forgotten department store, or corner drug store, out of their boxes and hang each one of them lovingly on the branches of this magnificent evergreen tree.

Each year we watch our children's faces light up as they open Christmas presents that we spent hours waiting in line to purchase, and paid for on high interest rate credit cards that we'll then spend all next year paying for. Our children then play with them for about 7 seconds and we then watch them forget what we gave them for Christmas even faster. This year let me suggest that you give your children the gift that will last a lifetime. Give them the gift of your time. Print out a gift certificate on your computer good for 7 hours of your time each weekend to spend with your children. Take them out to the park this spring. Rent a Muppet movie, make a big bowl of popcorn and watch it with them. Go for a bicycle ride in the country, bake some chocolate chip cookies. Let them play with the dough when you bake a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. Play baseball with them in the back yard. Play catch with them in the front yard. Get on the phone and brag about how great your children are to all of your friends. My mother does this constantly. I think the phone is growing out of her ear. Get them a box of crayons, some paper and watch them have fun for hours as they learn about every color of the rainbow. Teach your children that Christmas is not about gifts from catalogs, shopping malls and web sites. Christmas is about gifts from the heart. Gifts purchased with money are quickly forgotten; gifts from the heart are remembered for a lifetime. God blessed you the most precious gift of all, children. They are to be treasured every day and each and every season of your life.

If the walls of your home could talk what would they tell me about how you've celebrated Christmas? Would they tell me of many warm loving Christmas memories when you gathered family, friends and children for a huge holiday banquet/feast? Would they tell me of how you lovingly roasted chestnuts and popped corn in the fireplace? Would they tell me of children's laughter and the smiles on their faces come Christmas morning? Perhaps your walls would tell me of arguments and fights. Or would they be silent? Christmas has a way of bringing out the best or the worst in our families. Now you ask what would my walls have to say? My walls will tell you of 32 years, thirty-two years of stories of great love. Not just at Christmas time but every day of the year. My home has been infused with an extravagant abundance of love that I've poured into it. Through the years I've kept up all the family traditions and started many new traditions of my own over the years, that my Grandmother began many years ago. The kitchen has been infused with many aromas of perfectly roasted turkeys, cornbread stuffing, pumpkin, pecan, apple and cherry pies, Christmas carrot spice cake, pound cakes, big mugs of old fashioned hot cocoa with fluffy marshmallows, chocolate chip cookies and brownies that I've baked for family and friends at Christmas time.

Give yourself and your friends an authentic gift of love from your kitchen and your heart this holiday season. This holiday season give yourself a gift. Give yourself the gift of Time. Time to bake chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake and brownies, and at least twenty-five New York style cheesecakes. Bake at least 25 loaves of stolen, and an equal number of fruitcakes. I absolutely love fruitcake. I can eat fruitcake 12 months of the year. Bake pumpkin, pecan and mincemeat pies. Roast a 25 pound standing prime rib roast for Christmas and make tons of Yorkshire pudding to serve with it so you can sop up all that gravy. Bake an extra large Virginia ham that's at last 25 pounds. Brush it with apricot glaze. Stud the ham with cloves and rings of pineapple and red cherries. Roast a 37-pound turkey with chestnut stuffing and make gallons of gravy. Make enormous amounts of mashed potatoes, peas and carrots. Make 25 huge mugs of old fashioned hot cocoa from scratch. Roast chestnuts and popcorn in the fireplace. Get the biggest 25-foot tall Christmas tree you've ever had. Put at least 700 strings of lights on it, and at least 800 old fashioned hand blown red, gold and green, glass ornaments on it' branches, and don't forget the ice sickles. Deck those halls with 900 bows of holly. Put a big wreath on your front door. Put a wreath on every door. Make 37 gallons of home made eggnog dusted with freshly grated nutmeg. Purchase 700 rolls of film. Take 7000 pictures.

Invite everyone you know over for a dessert party. Eat as much food and chocolate as your heart desires. Kick your diet to the curb! Infuse your kitchen and every room of your home with conversation, laughter, lifetime memories, love and the spirit of Christmas. Dust off that old Victrolla and play every Christmas record you've got tucked away in the attic. Set out the Nativity Basket on Christmas Eve. Go to midnight mass. After dinner sit around for hours drinking coffee, eating leftovers, and making hour upon hour of conversation. Christmas is found in your faith and in your heart and in every day of the year. Christmas is miracles, blessings and abundance all rolled into one.

Legend has it that whosoever ventures out into great snows on Christmas Eve bearing a succulent bone for a lost and lamenting hound, a wisp of hay for a shivering horse, a warm cloak for a stranded wayfarer, a garland of bright berries for one who has worn chains, a dish of crumbs for all huddled birds who thought their song was dead, and sweetmeats for little children who peer from lonely windows - whosoever prepares this simply abundant tray, "shall be proffered and returned gifts of such an astonishment as will rival the hues of the peacock and the harmonies of heaven"

Every Christmas Eve I quietly take down from the top of the cupboard a huge willow tray, line it with cloth, and place on it a juicy bone from our standing rib roast dinner; a bowl of cat food; hay from the bale I used for autumn decorations; a warm coat someone has outgrown or grown tired of; a string of cranberries; a dish of fresh bread crumbs and sunflower seeds; and a plate of sugarplums.

Quietly I sneak out the door and go out to the end of my driveway and leave this basket. Now it's impossible on this holy night not to think of the homeless as I settle the tray on the ground. Two thousand years ago another homeless family depended on a stranger's charity. They didn't find any until an ordinary, harried, exhusted woman stopped long enough to feel her heart tug.

I started preparing the Nativity tray because an almost palpable mysticism seemed to surround the legend. I was also very interested in the promise of astonishing gifts to rival the harmonies of heaven. Every year when I go out on Christmas morning to collect the tray, many of the offerings are gone. One year, even the coat. For all I know, I'm the squirrels' Santa Claus. But it does give me happy pause, wondering whose Christmas dreams came true. And the astonishing gifts to rival heaven? Everywhere I look. But the best one is that now I can truly see them.



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