Sit. Feast on your life.

– Derek Walcott

That’s exactly what I did this Thanksgiving holiday. I was incredibly blessed to spend four days on three beautiful acres in the Valley of the Moon. My treasured friends, Stuart and Carlos, surprised their holiday guests with dinner in the newly built Ponderosa Pine barn they had just completed on their property in Sonoma.

Carlos, a gifted photographer with a wonderful eye for beauty, invited me to view the Thanksgiving barn before the other guests arrived. He had embellished the large open space with brilliantly colored blankets, saddles, cowboy hats, and fall-colored tree branches for the occasion.

Thanksgiving dinner in the barn
Table and chairs ready for Thanksgiving dinner for 18 in the barn.

An impossibly long wooden table was poised between two square posts supporting a chunky overhead beam with big barn doors opening at either end.

Carlos enhanced the table with tall candle lit lanterns, crunchy fall leaves, pumpkins, persimmons, pomegranates and earthy green and brown pottery. A row of nine armless fawn-colored linen chairs flanked each side to welcome people to their seats.


Two engaging horses, Taos and Cinnabar, greeted guests as they arrived at the barn carrying big warm platters from the kitchen. Stuart’s chunky steaming stuffing, crusty mashed potatoes, crispy lime green Brussel sprouts, two huge butter brown roasted turkey’s, and baskets of toasty warm flaxseed, olive and rosemary bread were placed upon a honey colored serving table on the other side of the barn. Big pitchers of sparkling water and bottles of wine from Sonoma and Napa Valley vineyards formed a line down the center of the dining table.

Horses greet guests for Thanksgiving
Taos and Cinnabar greet guests as they arrive.


A toast at the holiday table
A toast at the holiday table.

After guests located their seats by the hand-made name cards at each plate, I looked around the table to see the beauty in the diversity before me. I was in awe – black, brown, white, straight, gay, married, divorced, single, widowed, kids, no kids – and born in six different countries – Kenya, France, Mexico, Denmark, Norway and the United States.

I looked at the faces – illuminated with wonder, gratitude and candlelight, as we paused, held hands, and bowed heads. “Thank you for this feast of a moment of beauty in life – the people, the animals, the barn, the food and the nature that surrounds us,” I said.

Then I thought to myself, I love that Thanksgiving isn’t religious. No matter who we are, what we believe or where we come from, it is simply a time to come together as human beings to express gratitude for this extraordinary gift called life.


Stuart’s finale of homemade cinnamon laced pumpkin pie, sourdough crusted pecan pie, tart and zesty lemon pie, and fluffy coconut cream pie, gave us energy to dance the night away.

Music filled the rafters of the barn as fat candles glowed while silver moonlight shimmered on the trees beyond the wide-open barn doors that let in the night. What a feast I thought as I watched everyone dancing with everyone.

Dancing into the night
Dancing into the night.

Lucky Guests

Two lucky guests spent the night in the top of the barn with a view of the Bay
Two lucky guests from New York City spent the night in the top of the barn with a view of the Bay.

I hope you also feasted on your life this Thanksgiving holiday. Despite our discontent from what we perceive we don’t have, it’s good to stop and be grateful for what we do have, not just on Thanksgiving but every day of the year.

With love, blessings and gratitude,

Showing 7 comments
  • Susan R. L.

    Excellent message Linda. We are so blessed in this country and to be surrounded by so much love, passion and understanding is so wonderful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts this season. Hugs to you, my friend.

  • stable

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  • Marla P.

    Oh Golly, I have to comment again! I, too, just LOVE looking around any gathering and enjoy the diversity I observe. Life seems to be more accepting than it was when I was a teen or young woman. Agape love is inclusive and that indeed is something to be grateful for! AND OMG THAT BARN!!!! 3 words for it….fab u lous! Blessings, Marla

  • Jean Bennett

    What a beautiful place! Their barn looks very much like the barn that my son built for their horses a few years ago. It looks like a wonderful time was had by all 🙂

    Happy Holidays,


  • Lynn

    What a marvelous slice of life, Linda – a beautiful home made even more beautiful by a gathering of friends. A thanksgiving indeed!

  • Kirby

    I feel as though I were a guest also at this intimate Thanksgiving party! Thank you, Linda, for a very important thought to ponder… “be grateful for what we have rather than what we do not!”

  • Angela C.

    beautiful. well said. loved the photos. I am grateful each day!!!!

    thanks for sharing!!!

    Angela from NJ

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A casual mantel arrangement of pumpkins, artichokes, persimmons, olive branches and berries.Linda Applewhite Design