A Misshapen Thanksgiving


The guy at the flea market got it!  I might have gotten some second glances from passers-by as I carried my trash bags full of dried gourds back to the SUV.  But the vendor, a farmer from Georgia, smiled.  There is something wonderful about the odd, misshapen, imperfections of these dried gourds, from the tiniest one for my place settings to the giant one for the buffet.

My husband didn’t even make fun of me when I added another one to the bag.  Let’s face it, it’s not every year that my place setting décor costs a quarter each!

Not long before, I had picked up this antique French grain bin from a local vintage shop.  And now I could complete my Thanksgiving table vision! Organic, natural elements, soft colors of fall, rustic pieces with worn patinas, simple mis-matched place settings to greet my guests, and the soft glow of candlelight in thrifted candlesticks…just a few of my favorite things all in one place.

Here is my go-to formula for setting my table for a large gathering:


  1. Simple place settings.  No need to go out and buy extra dishes.  Mix and match your dishes for an eclectic look.  I invested in several sets of simple white dishes before I was even married…and I’m still using them for almost every place setting over 17 years later!  You can even cheat and buy the fancy plastic dishes.  Yes, it’s totally fine!

2.     Simple napkins:  At a whopping $0.49 each, I don’t need to fret if one of these “napkins” gets ruined with Thanksgiving dinner.  Grab a pack of shop rags from the hardware store.  Your guests will think you’ve treated them with vintage linen.  You’re welcome!

3.     Make a statement with your centerpiece: This is the perfect chance to pull out those large vessels and create a centerpiece overflowing with seasonal bounty. Consider baskets, large dough bowls, crates, or vintage boxes.  Grab your pumpkins from around the house (or gourds from the flea market!), clip some dry branches from your yard, and have some fun!

For many of us, Thanksgiving will look a little different this year.  If I’m being honest, I am digging a little deep to get in the spirit this year…everything just feels sideways.  But Thanksgiving isn’t cancelled; it’s in our hearts.  And I’m holding myself accountable to making it count, especially in the simple ways.

It will be quick and easy to clear the table for games after we celebrate another year of blessing and the goodness of God.  We will have a slow evening of being together (under the lights of the Christmas tree, of course, because we enjoy it too much to wait!).  The dried gourds will be put back in the trash bags and safely stored in the attic, ready for next year’s decorating.  The leftover pumpkin pie will be stored in the corner of the refrigerator for Friday’s breakfast.  And my heart will be full of Thanksgiving.

Whether your gathering is large or small this year, I hope you find joy in creating a scene that reflects goodness and grace.  It can be a little like those gourds…odd, imperfect, worn, and misshapen.  But it can still be beautiful.





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