What I Want To Teach My Kids About Thanksgiving

My husband and I have yet to start a Thanksgiving tradition with our kids. For the past few years, we have kept our Thanksgiving weekend fairly simple by spending some time with our extended family. It’s usually fairly laid back and I must confess we don’t make a turkey dinner. Gasp! I know, I know…

When the kids were so little keeping this holiday simple has been a preference for me. It falls so soon after my son’s birthday, which usually is a busy weekend of celebrating. Hosting yet another big gathering merely a week or two later just seems exhausting to me. Heck, I’m still getting over the chaos (although it was fun!) that was my son’s 5th birthday party just last weekend!

But now that the kids are getting older I have been thinking about what I would like Thanksgiving to be for our family.

First and foremost, I want Thanksgiving to be about spending quality time together as a family. When I was growing up my parents kept Thanksgiving fairly quiet, with my mom making a nice dinner (sometimes the traditional turkey, but other times there may have been a roast or even some Portuguese cuisine), and it would just be me, my brother and my parents. We would generally enjoy our meal together and share what we were thankful for. There were some years where we may have been invited to a relative’s house for Thanksgiving, but almost always it was spent at home.

Secondly, I’d like to teach my kids about being thankful, and I don’t just mean in the sense of using their manners. I want them to learn how to be grateful for the many blessings in their lives, both big and small. I want them to appreciate the loving family and friends they have and the nurturing place they call home. I want them to recognize how fortunate we are to live in a country like Canada, with accessible health care, good schools and education, and a richly multicultural community.

Thirdly, I want to teach them about respect and kindness. I want them to know that we don’t just show our friends and family peace and love, but all people. I want them to understand the importance of respecting our planet, even if we just keep it as simple as maintaining a clean neighbourhood and doing our best to reduce waste. I want them to show kindness and gentleness to animals and understand that they are just as important to this Earth as we are.

Lastly, I want my kids to learn to always be giving and to share with others, and the significant impact, whether it’s big or small, that this can have on people. Our family is fortunate to be able to help others in need, be it through charitable donations or mowing a neighbour’s lawn.

I want Thanksgiving to be a time that we as a family reflect on all of these things, to celebrate them and be grateful. Most importantly I want it to be a reminder that we should do all of these things not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day.

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