It’s the beginning of the holiday season — Halloween, All Saints Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas — and then a brand New Year. Whether we love it or tread lightly through these next few months they are here and it’s the perfect time for us to stop and give thanks for our many blessings.
While each of us may not have lives filled with possessions, there are, most certainly many things in our lives that we can be thankful for. Our cup overflows with his grace and love.
For hundreds of years, the cornucopia — with its horned shape basket and overflowing contents — has been associated with Thanksgiving. It is often pictured on the dinner table when Native Americans first ate with the Pilgrims.
The word “Cornucopia” entered into the English dictionary in 1508 and originates from two Latin words; Cornu meaning “horn” and Copia meaning “plenty”. Hence the nickname Horn of Plenty, which in most cases today refers to an abundance of something.
In ancient times and in cases associated with Thanksgiving, it refers to a horn-shaped basket or hallowed out gourd filled with fruits and vegetables gathered from a good harvest.
Decorating for the autumn season using the cornucopia along with collected materials from the garden and landscape might be an excellent reminder of God’s presence in our daily lives.
Start with a horn shaped basket that can be found at most craft stores. It can be metal, paper or a traditional basket. Next, gather from the garden (or your kitchen) mini pumpkins, yellow ears of corn, peppers, winter squash, red beets, okra, ornamental corn, red cabbage, and gourds. Select apples and pears, pine cones, ornamental grasses, rose hips, and brightly colored tree and shrub leaves. Nuts and seeds are also wonderful additions. The idea is to have the contents arranged in a way that spills out of the basket in plentiful bounty. Have fun, add flowers (if you still have any after the freeze).
Choose items that mean something to you. The colors of vegetables can add charm, and their shapes are as unique as their taste. Side note: Humans are naturally attracted to unique shapes and bright colors. Green, leafy vegetables and orange colored vegetables have higher amounts of vitamins compared to other vegetables, and therefore are recommended to eat more often.
After preparing a cornucopia, enjoy this display through the fall. Say silent prayers in thanksgiving when passing by. Each time we eat from the cornucopia it should remind us of the nourishing way God blesses us. Give us this day our daily bread.
When it begins to snow, collect greenery from evergreens, red apples, and more pine cones. Pine cones can be dipped in white, silver or gold paint to complement Christmas colors. The cornucopia can be enjoyed through the Christmas season switching out fall colors for winter tones.
Outside of our homes during the fall months many households in our diocese decorate their landscape and doorsteps with pumpkins and cornstalks in celebration of autumn. An assortment of squash and leafy vegetables such as kale and cabbage are becoming just as popular due to their whimsical shapes and textures.
Blessed is October! The days are getting shorter, and heavenly crisp air fills our lungs. Our outdoor landscaping withers from the dropping temperatures, and our vegetable gardens are no more. Celebrate this beautiful time of year. Be ever thankful, rejoice and be glad.
“I loved autumn, the season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” ~ Lee Maynard, American Novelist (1936-2017).
(Kerry Peetz is a master gardener and a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs.