Herald Journal Columns
Nov. 14, 2005, Herald Journal

Keep the ‘thanks’ in Thanksgiving


We probably all have been in a situation where our children have received something that they didn’t like, and they have openly and honestly expressed their dislike for whatever it was. Children are honest, but we can also teach our children how to receive an unappealing gift (and all gifts, for that matter) graciously.

It’s a great idea to take advantage of a child’s love of pretend play to act out or role play different scenarios in which a thank you is required. Before holidays and birthday parties, try to role play and rehearse how to graciously accept an unappealing gift.

Ask such questions as, “What would you say if you got a gift that you didn’t like?” Help them practice responses that show gratitude without faking enthusiasm, such as just a simple, “Thank you very much.”

On the website, familyfun.go.com, parent Cindy P. Peabody from Massachusetts wrote about a Thanksgiving turkey project that helps their family get in the spirit of gratitude. At the beginning of November, her younger son cuts turkey feathers out of construction paper and mails them to their relatives. He asks that each person write on a feather what he or she is thankful for that year, and then return it to them.

On Thanksgiving morning, the other son reads the feathers out loud, and the family assembles a paper turkey together, adding the feather sentiments. It is a neat way to share the thoughts of relatives who are far away and can’t make it to a Thanksgiving gathering.

‘Let’s be thankful’

Here’s a fun little song to teach your children, reminding us all of giving thanks. Sing it to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Whenever you sing something new to a familiar tune, it makes it much easier for children (and all of us) to remember.

“Let’s be thankful for this day. For our friends and our play. Let’s be thankful; let’s be glad. For our food and the things we have. Let’s give thanks for you and me. And our home and family.”

This is from www.pammshouse.com, although I have seen it in print in other places, as well. You and your children could also make up your own verses to add.

On Thanksgiving Day, and every day, do a round robin thank you, taking turns conveying what each person is thankful for.

Thanksgiving pie

For a simple Thanksgiving craft that will indulge your children in Thanksgiving scents, have your child paint a paper plate with orange paint mixed with glue, then sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice or some cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. This idea is also from www.pammshouse.com

Discuss with your children other foods that the Pilgrims had and what people may eat at a Thanksgiving dinner, which certainly can vary from household to household.

Thanksgiving history

Teach your children a little about the history of Thanksgiving and how it became a national holiday. Read a book with your children about Thanksgiving. There are now many children’s books focusing on this holiday. If possible, purchase one from your children’s book orders from school.

In last week’s article, I shared how Thanksgiving originally started, dating back to 1623. On the website www.christiananswers.net, Catherine Millard shared that Congress has proclaimed national days of Thanksgiving many times throughout the years.

On Nov. 1, 1777, by order of Congress, the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation was signed by the president of the Continental Congress, Henry Laurens, officially setting aside the third Thursday of December to give thanks.

Then, Millard noted, on Jan. 1, 1795, our first president of the United States, George Washington, wrote his National Thanksgiving Proclamation, in which he said that it is “. . . our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God . . . ” President George Washington set aside Thursday, Feb. 19, 1795 as the National Day of Thanksgiving.

Years later, Oct. 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed an annual National Day of Thanksgiving “on the last Thursday of November, “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

So it is that on Thanksgiving Day each year, we give thanks for all of our blessings!

The website www.knowledghound.com summed it up nicely: “Giving thanks is a powerful tool that can improve your life and the lives of those around you dramatically. Embrace gratitude’s special day (Thanksgiving), then, make it a habit!”