By the end of Thanksgiving break our Thankful Tree looked like this:
Let's get a closer look at each side before we took it all down to make way for Christmas:
There we go:)
Every now and again the kids' friends would ask for leaves so they could write their own grateful stuff to add it to ours.
I love having that thing up to remind us daily about so many things we are grateful for.
One of my favorite parts this year was this leaf big and central:
I know I say this all the time, but I think we all feel it in our bones: we are all so grateful for China. I love that we were there during the holidays because it gives us good reference points to remember what we were doing exactly this time last year. Some of the things that have come up around the dinner table or in holiday conversation lately:
Huddling around our little heater and always being bundled up in our puffy coats we got at the knock-off market because we were wimpy freezing during the holidays.
The Christmas "secret Santas" we did for our own activity days we came up with since they didn't have it in our branch congregation there (back here).
Curry in a curry house smack-dab in the middle of Japan for Thanksgiving dinner (back here).
The school Christmas program complete with a belly dancer (here).
Getting desperate enough for some Christmas decorations that I made a wreath for above our fireplace out of paper...ha! (here).
I am more grateful than ever for all the Christmas decorations that abound around here since we had to make the trek to expensive malls to see them in China.
But one thing that has brought back more memories of China than anything else lately was a visit from our friends who saved our bacon over and over again when we were there. My friend Katie is one who knew every great place to go, and would brave anything to show us around even with a toddler and nursing baby in tow. They are one of the great families (there were a few extra amazing ones) who took us under their wings and helped us figure out which way was "up" as we were blindly trying to maneuver our way with five kids around so much unfamiliarity.
They have moved back to the states and came to visit right before Thanksgiving. Their oldest is Lucy's age, so it's funny how excited even my big kids were to see them.
I mean, I'm not talking "oh, awesome, that will be fun to see them again."
I'm talking: "THAT'S THE BEST THING I'VE HEARD!" from Max when I told him they were coming and "I CAN'T WAIT FOR THEM TO COME!" from everyone else. We adore this great family so much.
Friends are the grandest invention.
How we miss all of the great people we got to rub shoulders with over there. Makes me more grateful than ever for Instagram so I can still keep up with them and all their crazy adventures over there as well as the ones who have moved back here.
Yes, China deserved to be really huge on that Thankful Tree of ours, and one of the biggest reasons is that we got to meet people like the Nichols there.