Thanksgiving is not all about the food, days off school and all the uncles yelling at the television set. For young children, sometimes that is all they see, but it is important for parents to explain the true meaning of the holiday as well.
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there are several ways for parents to teach their children the reason that family and friends get together every year to share a meal.
Explain the Meaning of “Thanks”
When explaining the holiday to their children, parents should divide the word in half. Starting with “thanks.” Teach the kids about being thankful and what that means. Each child can draw a picture or make a list of what they are thankful for and why. They can also write down friends or family members to say “thank you” to and write letters of thanks to hand out during Thanksgiving dinner.
Explain the Meaning of “Giving”
The second half of the word is “giving.” Tell them about the very first Thanksgiving when the English settlers came to a new land and shared a meal with the Indian tribes. Connect that story of giving with giving today. Ask the kids what they do to give. If they are old enough, parents can even take them to volunteer and help give a Thanksgiving dinner to someone less fortunate.
Remember the Past
Every child should hear the story of the very first Thanksgiving. To make it fun for the kids, make costumes of how the people dressed during the first Thanksgiving meal and re-create the day. Some kids can dress up as English settlers while others dress up as Indians. Explain how styles have changed since then and compare outfits. Parents can even use hats, toddler belts or shoes to show examples of how accessories have changed.
Look to the Future
Once a child understands the past, parents should then explain the future. Tell the kids what it means to join together on Thanksgiving. Explain to them the meaning of being with loved ones and sharing in a beautiful meal while showing thanks for receiving it. Children should be able to focus more on the family and the heart behind Thanksgiving rather than apple pie and mashed potatoes.
Help Them Understand
It is not wrong to enjoy the food, eat three slices of pie and cheer for a favorite team to win a football game. Children should understand that they should enjoy all those things, but also understand the meaning behind them. If they can be thankful for their piles of turkey and their big screen TV, they will learn how to appreciate everything they have received and understand that not everything comes easily. A good way to help them learn this is to teach them to help make Thanksgiving dinner instead of just eating it.
Thanksgiving is one of the most loved days for good friends, good food and family time. Help the kids learn the reasons behind the day and they will respect it even more.