This article, entitled Thankful Children comes from Erin Ferris at http://amidwesterngirlincowboycountry.blogspot.com
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I can help my children better understand the meaning of this holiday.
We celebrate Thanksgiving of course, usually by visiting family and enjoying a delicious meal together, but Thanksgiving receives nowhere near the build-up its fellow fall holidays enjoy. With each passing year the Thanksgiving “season” shrinks due to its unfortunate placement on the calendar between the costumes and candy of Halloween and the gifts, elves, and caroling of Christmas. I want to reverse that trend and turn November – at least the days in November leading up to Thanksgiving (because let’s be honest, I’ll be setting up my Christmas tree and hanging our stockings by the chimney with care the day after Thanksgiving) – back into the Thanksgiving Season.
My children understand thankfulness, at least on basic three-year-old and six-year-old levels. They say “please” and “thank you”, and I honestly believe they appreciate the gifts and special experiences that occasionally come their way. My goal, however, is to take their thankfulness to the next level, and my plan to do so includes incorporating the following activities into the coming weeks.
Right now our regular dinner conversation includes going around the table and sharing our best parts (and worst parts, if applicable) of the day. During the month of November we’ll instead go around the table and share one person, experience, or item for which we are thankful.
Throughout the year we make and send/distribute Valentine’s Day cards, St. Patrick’s Day treats, Easter baskets, Halloween cupcakes, and Christmas cards. This year we’re going to add Thanksgiving cards to that list, so that our friends and family members will know we’re thinking about them even if we can’t spend the holiday together.
Fill Our Neighbors’ Pantries
A few days before Thanksgiving the kids and I will make a special trip to the grocery store to shop for Thanksgiving dinner and dessert items to donate to the local food pantry. We went on a similar outing at the beginning of the school year – I gave each amount of money and let them decide how to spend it on school supplies for others – and not only did my kids have a great time, they also put a great deal of thought into how to stretch their money and make good choices on behalf of the children for whom they were shopping.
Support Our Local Charities
The long weekend following Thanksgiving Thursday will be the perfect time to go through our dresser drawers, shelves, and closets. Once we’ve pulled out, sorted through, and cleaned the clothes, books, and toys we no longer use we’ll donate them to local charities and thrift stores. Any brand new toys we come across will be set aside to donate to Toys for Tots come December.
I don’t believe we’ll be able to magically turn Thanksgiving from a feasting day into a season overnight, but I’m hopeful that the activities we have planned will be a step in the right direction.
How about you? What special traditions do you and your family participate in during the Thanksgiving season? How do you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday? How do you teach your children to be thankful?