Once again it looks like everyone is coming to our house for Thanksgiving. I have no problem stuffing and cooking a turkey, whipping up some tasty gravy, or baking delicious pies. I enjoy cooking, and I’ve made plenty of turkey dinners. I’m the kind of cook who works hard to get the flavors I want, but forgets about presentation. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, what stumps me is decorating the table.
My first inclination is to just pick up a small potted mum from the market and plop it down in the center of the table, perfectly blocking the line of sight between Aunt Abigail and Cousin Clarence. It’s easy and I gain a plant out of it. However, it has its drawbacks.
For one, mums just don’t match our décor. Our dining room is wallpapered in shades of tan, teal, and burgundy. Mums come in yellow, white, pink, lavender, gold, orange, and a purplish-brown color that makes me queasy. Normally, I don’t care a lot about décor, but this is one time of the year that I really do want everything to look nice. I’m just not that good at implementing my vision.
Another problem is, as stated above, mums are a bit tall. Even if I get the smallest sized pot, a chrysanthemum in the middle of the table is still going to cause people to stoop or wiggle and crane their necks in order to look one another in the eye. I happen to consider the table conversation to be more important than the decorations, so mums are out.
When I confessed my dilemma to my good friend, she pointed out her little pilgrim candles and some miniature pine cone turkeys she’d created in one of her craftier moods. I have to admit they were cute, but I don’t have time to hot glue colored feathers onto pine cones, and I’m not really the wax pilgrim type. Besides, what about the Native Americans, and is this politically correct? We have new guests coming this year, and I don’t want to get into a political discussion. This has been a controversial topic lately, and you never know how people will react.
Seeing how Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincide this year, I could forgo the entire Thanksgiving theme and decorate with a menorah and a dreidel. That would certainly confuse everyone! But then could I serve turkey and stuffing and cranberries and pie? Shouldn’t I be serving matzo ball soup and potato pancakes? (Someone actually suggested using sweet potatoes to make latkes, thus combining the two holidays!)
I could go the traditional route and assemble some sort of cornucopia. At least we’d all be able to see over it. However, we run into the same color-coordination difficulties. Does a deep red tablecloth really look all right with orange pumpkins, golden yellow squash, and purple grapes?
I really like the idea of flowers. I just need a Thanksgiving flower that matches my dining room, is low-growing, and will survive our desert-like Colorado indoor living space. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently. Oh, I came up with a list of plants that fit my criteria—low growing, attractive, blooming indoors, suitable for low humidity and relatively low light. Just for a starter, consider impatiens, fibrous begonias, African violets, or Calibrachoa (right), that recent introduction that resembles (and is closely related to) petunias. True, three of these are usually grown outdoors, but they do just fine in the house as well. (Just try to find them in the garden center at this time of year.) Calibrachoa even comes in fall colors—russet and copper and gold and bronze—but in spite of that, it just doesn’t say “Thanksgiving.” Why are we so darned focused on chrysanthemums?
This year, everyone is coming to our house for Thanksgiving. They’ll enjoy a roast turkey with golden brown, crispy skin, cornbread stuffing, and creamy gravy, along with all the rest of the trimmings. The dinner will be served on our “good” plates (they aren’t chipped), on a burgundy red tablecloth. In the middle of the table will be… nothing in particular. I doubt anyone will notice. They’ll be too busy eating.
Top photo shamelessly swiped from the ProFlowers website. Please visit their website and order something so I don’t feel guilty. Thank you.