09 October 2013

bowling-pin-shaped-turkey and some happy thoughts

Ok, I mentioned that I was going to share a bowling-pin-shaped turkey project with y'all.  And I am.  But first, some happy news from my "time in the closet" yesterday.  {You know, the one, right?  The foster care supply closet downtown.}
  1. Almost every size has a minimum of three outfits.  Unbelievable.  These are the only sizes that have less than 3 outfits; girls' 24m + 2T, boys' 18m, 24m, 3T, M, L + XL.  Amazing, really.
  2. The boys' old caseworker stopped by to chat for a moment.  She has switched over to the adoption unit instead of foster care.  She loves it and wanted to share how happy she is in her new department.  She also told me that "a 17-year-old girl had just been adopted."  We both smiled wide with teary-eyes as she spoke those words. 
I thought you'd like to think about those happy things.  Have I mentioned how fun it is to be doing this gig?  I feel exceedingly blessed to be able to volunteer there and share it all with you.

On to the turkey.  Y'all, I love it.  It is one of the few things I've done well in terms of family traditions.  And I think it came about as a whim.

It was so hard when we left Michigan to move to Oklahoma.  I had been away from family before, so that part wasn't new to me, but the part about ripping a child from his grandparents and great grandparents and aunts and uncles?  Oh my that was a new kind of hurt.

As we progressed toward the holiday season, I wanted a way for Wilson to feel connected with all the people we had left behind.  I probably saw this idea in FamilyFun magazine or something, it was long before everyone was blogging-craft-tutorials which was even before everyone started pinning those ideas.

I cut out some feathers. One for every member of our immediate-extended family.  Great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, first cousins.  It was hard to exclude great aunts and uncles and subsequent cousins, but I had to cut out all those feathers by hand and it took a hot minute.

We typed up a little note and asked each family member to write what they were most thankful for over the past year.  We put the note in an envelope along with enough feathers for each family member at each house and included a self-addressed return envelope for the feathers to be mailed back.  I also made a bowling-pin-shaped-turkey and stuck him up on the wall.

And we waited for the mail to come.

I could not have guessed what a thrill this would be for Wilson.  Mail, just for him, almost daily throughout November.   We'd open the envelope, read the thankful notes, and hang the feathers up on that ol' turkey.

It was such fun that we began doing it every year.
 {yes, we used a different turkey the first year, I might not have planned on doing this more than once.}

And now the boys are big enough to not only help cut out feathers, but they can help with addressing envelopes too.  Well, technically only two out of four are big enough to help with addressing envelopes. 

Here's where the whimsical part comes in... I save the feathers every year.  I am terrible at saving the 'right' things.  But somehow, I saved these feathers.

Year after year as we pull out our fall decorations, we find our turkey and all those feathers.  We'll read the feathers from years' past when we hang that ol' turkey back up on the wall.

This year we'll send out 33 feathers to 15 addresses.  The boys will eagerly check the mailbox throughout November.  I'll casually remind family members to send their feathers back.  {We've even transcribed feathers via text or email when "they get lost in the mail." }  It's super fun to add new feathers too, either because of marriage or because of birth, the count is the same this year, but next year we'll be adding at least two new ones!

I would've never guessed when we started this ol' turkey what a treasure these feathers would become.  These two are from my Grandpa & Grandma Lewis the very first year. 

Its such a simple, but special tradition.  Gratitude is a very sweet way to connect our boys with their family.  I thought a few of you might want to try it, especially if you live far away from extended family.

What do you think?  Is this something that might work for your family?  If you are worried about free-handing a bowling-pin-shaped-turkey or feathers, there are templates online.  Just ask google.  Or pinterest!

***do you like step-by-step instructions?
  1. Make a list of family members (or friends) you want to send feathers too.
  2. Cut out a feather for each person on your list.
  3. Buy two sizes of envelopes, make sure the smaller one will fit in the larger one.
  4. Buy stamps while you are at it.  If you are feeling generous buy enough for the self-addressed return envelope.
  5. You may want to buy double-sided tape or poster putty or whatever you prefer to hang your turkey and his feathers on the wall.
  6. Write a note to share what your family is thankful for over the past year.  Ask your family members to write their thanks on their feathers and mail them back.
  7. Stuff envelopes with feathers, note, and smaller self-addressed envelope.
  8. Make a turkey to hang on the wall.
  9. Wait for the mail to come.
  10. Hang feathers as they arrive.
  11. Take a picture of your kiddos in front of their turkey with all of his feathers.
  12. Pack it up for next year.
  13. Repeat.
See, easy-peasy!