By Alison Cupp Relyea
On Thursday, we will celebrate one of the oldest American traditions, a unique holiday in that most people in our nation celebrate it, regardless of religion, cultural background or age. As our families grow and we transition from from the young people’s table to the adult table or from guest to host, this is a perfect time to think about how to teach our children about family traditions and gratitude from an early age. After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is all about.
As we talked about in an earlier post, holidays are a perfect opportunity to merge your family traditions with your spouse’s traditions, and form new traditions together. From the earliest years of your child’s life, it is fun to build memories that will become part of the fabric of their childhood, things they remember doing year after year. As you map out the next few days with your children and other relatives, think about how to savor the moments together and what opportunities there are to be part of the larger community. Is there a Turkey Trot or a holiday festival in town, or a local museum or nature center that has special activities for young children? Will your children be part of the cooking to prepare the meal or the desserts? Even if you are not hosting, perhaps there is a way for you to contribute something handcrafted or whimsical to the table, such as braided napkin rings or place cards decorated by your children.
Getting young children involved in the holiday while also starting discussions at home about the meaning of Thanksgiving are very organic ways to teach gratitude. Your children may have some sense, even in the preschool years, of what Thanksgiving is about. They begin to recognize the symbols at school and around town: turkeys, cornucopias and tables filled with food. As they hear stories about the origin of Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, you can begin to explore concepts of gratitude and generosity. At your Thanksgiving table, each person can share a few things for which they are thankful, giving even toddlers a chance to participate in a moment of thanks.
It is so rare for us to have four days together as a family, and balancing the meaning of Thanksgiving with delicious food, quality time at home and community activities will bring warmth and cheer to your holiday.
We wish you and your loved ones a healthy, happy and heartwarming Thanksgiving from Petite Vigogne!