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Putting the thanks in Thanksgiving

by on Nov.14, 2009, under Holidays, Parent modeling, Parenting

As Thanksgiving approaches, most of us firm up plans for “the feast.”  At whose house will it be? What will I bring? What’s the best sweet potato recipe?  Then the day comes and it’s all about rush-rush, clean the house or clean the kids, cook the food, set the table, get everyone dressed…and then it’s over. 

Maybe the kids talked about  Thanksgiving  at school. They told the story (remembering the Mayflower, the pilgrims, the Native Americans–Indians is not pc). They planted corn, made corn bread, ground cranberries. And finally, they talked about what each child was thankful for (each child repeating what the one before him said…”my mommy, my mommy, my mommy, my daddy…”)

It’s all good and yummy. But what’s a parent to do to make it meaningful?  After all, thanksgiving is about expressing gratitude.

I think the problem is that we at home aren’t doing our part to bring out the thanks in Thanksgiving.  In fact, what we should be doing is making gratitude a part of every day. But that’s another topic. (In my new book which will be released next April, I have a whole chapter just on gratitude!)  Why not make a little more of Thanksgiving by putting the thanks back into it as the holiday approaches?

A client of mind shared a tradition that her family has developed. On the first day of November, each family member is assigned a color strip of paper on which he will write every day something for which he is grateful. (The little ones get to dictate), completing the phrase, “I am thankful for…” on his color strip of paper. Daily those strips are collected into a special container. And on Thanksgiving, with great ceremony, the strips are read. Some of the answers are sincere, some are emotional, some are just plain silly or repetitive, but all are given equal air time. Everyone gets to hear what others have said.  And I can promise you, it is both thought and conversation provoking. Children actually absorb what others say and do!

When it comes right down to it, what are you grateful for? Does your child know that? Being grateful starts with creating a consciousness about it and not just at school and not only on the third Thursday of November.

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