Thanksgiving: A Missed Opportunity

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Are you Missing a Thanksgiving Opportunity?

I wasn’t planning on writing this article but my mind has been consumed with Thanksgiving. We are only a few hours post Thanksgiving festivities and my house is suddenly quiet.   In my family, Thanksgiving is the highlight of the year.  It’s hectic, fun, loud and memorable.   We’ve spent over 20 years fine-tuning, adjusting and solidifying our traditions.  If you’ve followed me (even a little) on social media – you know how important this week is for me.

But I have to ask…..why is Thanksgiving so boring for everyone else?  Thanksgiving has a reputation for dullness. And I don’t understand.

Thanksgiving is simple and shouldn’t be complicated.  Thanksgiving is the ONE holiday that is supposed to be outward focused.   What blessings have been given to you?  Encouraging you to around you and be grateful.

But now, for many people Thanksgiving is just a “day off” before Black Friday.   We’ve made it about eating and football.  I read one person bemoan the entire holiday was “a hassle” since you prepare food but don’t “get anything out of it“.   One person told me, “Thanksgiving is just in the way of Christmas.”  And finally, one acquaintance insinuated by recognizing Thanksgiving I was actually “celebrating” the murder of Indians.

[Insert eye roll here]

I think you’re missing a huge opportunity if you’ve allowed Thanksgiving to be overshadowed by Christmas.  I know Christmas and it’s sparkly glamour brings joy to people.  And I sincerely don’t begrudge someone who loves Christmas.

But can you just give Thanksgiving a chance?

I’m asking you….to just consider if you might be missing a Thanksgiving opportunity.

It seems the longer I’m a mom, the more “hyper aware” I’ve become about influences on my children’s minds and hearts.  Teaching children to be thankful isn’t natural.  They are naturally the most unthankful creatures on the planet.  Selfish and demanding.   Have you ever had this conversation?

“Mom – can I have a cookie.”

“Yes.”

“Ok – can I have two?”

More.  We always want more.  And we are inundated with marketing impressions and advertisements trying to get our attention.   Various studies have demonstrated Americans are shown at least 4,000 – 10,000 advertisements a day.   How can you teach a child (or yourself) to be thankful in this hyper-materialistic environment?

By being purposeful.

You cannot accidentally be thankful.

Thanksgiving could be the perfect launching pad to PREPARE your family for the hectic Christmas season.   Don’t miss the opportunity to teach your children to reflect, be thankful and nurture the spirit of thankfulness in their hearts.

Give your children categories and gently push them to think about what blessings they have.  Don’t just say, “What are you thankful for?”

You might be surprised at the complexity of their answers!  I was blown away.

BE SPECIFIC

This week I asked my oldest son (4):  Tell me two things you’re grateful for, two people and two physical gifts you’re thankful for.

He said the typical “Mom, Dad, brothers and toys.”  And then about 20 minutes later he said, “I’m grateful for my mind.  If I didn’t have a strong mind, I couldn’t do puzzles. AND I REALLY LOVE PUZZLES!”

I couldn’t believe his answer.

REVERSE IT

Ask your children what being “unthankful” looks like in their world.  “What would being ungrateful sound like?”

DEMONSTRATE IT

Practice being thankful yourself.  Let your kids hear you thank others specifically.  Ask your kids, “what does Daddy do that we could thank him for?”  Let them practice and thank people IN PERSON.

WRITE IT DOWN

Consider writing down what you’re thankful for each year during the holiday.  It’s fun to reflect and look back on the previous years.  You can also see how your kids are maturing with their answers.

BE PREPARED

I know Thanksgiving is over.  I should have finished this weeks ago.   But you don’t need a Federal holiday to be thankful.  I’d encourage you to be prepared for next Thanksgiving and don’t miss the wonderful teaching opportunities.   Find ways to make Thanksgiving purposeful and meaningful.  Be vocal about people who’ve served and helped you.

For fun…here’s a quick re-cap of our Thanksgiving festivities.