November 15, 2012

Happiness in your own Backyard: Tips for Thanksgiving

*instagram photos

An awesome backyard…

was in my backyard the whole time!

When we found out we were moving to South Carolina I had visions of the old plantation home on acres and acres of land that we would purchase and fix up.  An old (not very expensive house because only I would see the beauty that laid beneath it’s crumbling surface) and potentially gorgeous house with expansive grounds and to spare for my kids to run free.  There would be flower gardens and emaculate grass.

I pictured Mike and Emmett throwing the football for hours across the beautiful golf course type fields surrounding our southern style front porch.  Just along the edges of the manicured yard would be wild woods where my kids could run and be free, laughing and make believing.  I dreamed of trees galore in every direction while living in Utah in a yard without a single tree.

And then we made the trek to South Carolina to find a home.

Most of the neighborhoods we could afford, in school districts that we felt comfortable sending our kids to, were brand new.   Which meant dreams of trees were slipping away.

We had 3 days to find a house before we headed home and I was disappointed that we were going to end up in a brand new neighborhood that looked like any other in the whole country.

On the last day of looking we found (in a neighborhood that was new) a lot that had not been built on yet and it had trees all over it.  The piece of land opened up into a huge green space (land no on is allowed to build on) of trees and wildness.

We knew it was the place to build.  It would hold the yard of our dreams.

We built there.

Once we moved in I discovered we had no yard for throwing around a football.  The trees were all in the way.  And then we tried to put in grass and no matter how many times we’ve planted grass seed, absolutely no grass will grow.  After all of our effort we still only had red mud and short weeds and tall weeds and taller weeds.

It felt like I had gotten the yard of our dreams only to discover that the dream was a nightmare to make into a reality.

I’ve fought our yard since we moved here trying to make it the dream I had dreamed of before moving here.

Last year at this time we had a dinner in the woods at a friend’s property.  Everyone in our family adored it.  We all said we had to do it again.

A few months ago (after living here for 4 years) I realized that my yard could be something completely different than the dream I came here with and probably even better.

I knew that our yard could be the magical night from last November…all of the time.

We hung lights, brought our table and chairs out, dug a fire pit, had dinner out there under the lights for no reason but because we loved it, had friends over, and had s’mores.

After four years of barely being used, we’ve been out there as often as possible now.  It’s our new magically wonderful place.

And next week when my family arrives for Thanksgiving we’ll be having our Dinner in the Woods in our backyard.

What space do you have that could use a bit of new magical-ness?


How to discover magic in your own backyard:

Purchase these lights and hang them up in your yard

Bring your dinner table and chairs outside

Set the table with your nice dishes

Dig a fire pit and put rocks around it

Make 2-3 delicious soups and some bread (or get them from Panera)

Gather mashmallows, graham crackers, chocolate bars, and sticks

Hang out in your backyard together all night eating dinner, making s’mores, and sitting by the fire


What have you done to transform one of your spaces into something that creates more familyness?

What you want…you already have.

Have you gotten my FREE e-book, “The Art of Familyness Photography?”  Ten tips to take better photos of your own awesome holiday celebrations!   Click here to get yours.




2 Comments to Happiness in your own Backyard: Tips for Thanksgiving

  1. November 28, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    I love this post, Davina. It’s so true that sometimes the expectation of perfection is exactly what prevents us from being happy with what we do have (which, ironically, is usually consistent with someone else’s idea of perfection…). And those photos do look pretty magical! Those twinkle lights just make all the difference!!

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