My mantel, like those of many others who use the surface as a source of display and inspiration for an upcoming holiday, is a reflection of one's life, of special items and trinkets, images and message that "speak" to us.
This year's Thanksgiving mantel has evolved from my Halloween mantle, which I wasn't clever enough to photograph this year before I re-arranged and replaced some of the items - sorry! It's the first time I've placed so many 5" x 7" picture frames of favorite postcards and greeting cards on the mantel. I've accumulated both frames (most made of wood and sourced from thrift shops or church rummage sales for just a dollar or two - great sources for nice frames and glass!) and seasonal autumn and Thanksgiving images that I enjoy, so I decided to give some of them pride of place on the mantel this year.
I also picked up six pretty pumpkin-colored taper candles for 25 cents each at a local thrift shop in my area that helps generate support for local at-risk teens and families. I love this little store that always has some terrific items at very affordable prices that I invariably come away with something neat to use, give as a great gift and even to re-sell on eBay. I sent two of the candles to the life-long friend who sent me the first card on the left (above) with the pretty autumn leaves a few years ago. I always hang onto cards and images that I love -- you never know where they'll work for some other purpose, whether photocopied or used as is.
And speaking of eBay, I got two of the four ceramic candle holders with leaves and acorn bands around the base at Goodwill, and found the other pair on eBay. I think smaller items like this work best in quantity -- two is nice, but four is better - they make more of a statement. I also find eBay is the best source for appealing and affordable vintage Thanksgiving postcards from the early 20th century -- they're beautifully detailed and have a wonderful timeless appeal for this most timeless of holidays. I try to pick up at least one each year.
It's a little hard to see the small square image on left above - it's a card I bought years a go of a tiny photograph of a country road surrounded by leaves. I love images of scenic rural roads in autumn...there's something so special about that subject - pulling you into the scene and inviting you to travel down that road in your imagination, especially during a season that's so visually glorious, yet so fleeting, so ephemeral.
Smack in the center of the mantel is a beautiful jar (missing its lid) in one of my favorite pottery patterns -- Mason's Fruit Basket in their red variation. This jar is similar to another one I've had for years, but it's slightly different since it has an iridescent glaze that reflects the colors of the rainbow as the light bounces off its gleaming surface.
Just to the left of the jar is a tiny, porcelain, hinged trinket box with a "turkey" surrounded by fruits and vegetables on its lid. I found this in an antiques store in the region two years ago and had to have it, along with its companion cornucopia hinged box below.
The two little ceramic pumpkins were enclosed inside the cornucopia -- how darling are they? So sweet! They're barely the size of a pea or bean! I love these little vintage treasure boxes!
The cute terracotta turkey votive candle holder came from another Goodwill store in the region. Might have been a dollar...certainly not much more than that.
I can't recall where the pretty carved gold frame came from, and the card was just one I picked up several years ago because I loved the image of pumpkins in, and next to, a wire basket atop a rustic dusty blue/aqua wooden box, and its simple message "Gather Together" that reminds me of the traditional Thanksgiving hymn, "We Gather Together" that we sang at school every year for 12 years. That's what I love about Thanksgiving - the traditions. It's not a religious holiday, per se, but a quintessentially American celebration of appreciation of the things we all have to be thankful for -- our freedom, our bountiful land and harvest, our friends and families -- that the "new world" provided to the European pilgrims who initially settled here, joining the native peoples who preceded them and things that we sometimes take for granted so readily today.
Enjoy all that this special holiday brings to you and your life.