Have you ever noticed how in the stores you will see a plethora of Halloween costumes, decorations and the like, but immediately following Halloween, you see Christmas themed decorations all over and very little to commemorate Thanksgiving? The most I’ve seen have had leaves, maybe a cornucopia, and really only enough scattered throughout the store to fill a half to one whole aisle. Our national holiday seems to be only truly named and observed within “leaked” Black Friday ads, with its true purpose of alerting you to when the advertised deals start. This never really bothered me in the past. As a little girl Thanksgiving was all about the Macy’s Parade, the dog show, food, and the countdown until Santa Claus and presents galore. I understood, from school, where the origins of the holiday came from, minus the full context of war and genocide, and acknowledged it by thinking of the Indians(that’s what we called them back then) and Pilgrims and eating all of the food they couldn’t. In my opinion, it seems like we now treat Thanksgiving as one day, whereas back then the focus for at least two weeks was about what and whom we were thankful for.
At the start of November, in my family, major preparation began, when we helped my mom make a list of the things we wanted to eat on Thanksgiving. Then we would spend the rest of the month shopping for the items we needed, the week before concentrating on the freshest ingredients. We would spend November 23rd and 24th cleaning our home, thankful for our home, but all the while trying, in vain, to be thankful for the work we had to do to make our home pristine. On November 25th we spent at least half the day baking and cleaning the turkey, chopping the fresh ingredients. And on Thanksgiving after waiting for Santa to appear in the Macy’s parade we finished the cooking and a forgotten cake while sneaking glimpses of the dog show, we would sit at the table and pray, each of us saying what we were thankful for. This was in the 1980’s-90’s.
Fast forward to last year, I became unsettled as I noticed how little time I spent focusing on being thankful. My lack of focus had trickled down to my children and the absence of music (my normal go-to for all important holidays) for the Thanksgiving season didn’t help the situation. This year when Roly even expressed his concern asking “Mommy, why don’t we have any Thanksgiving music?” All I could say was I didn’t know of any songs and I knew this was the time to change. So without a well-laid plan my fall back is always to start where I am. I began to notice when I felt like complaining, whether it was about my children’s behavior or pain within my body, then I would replace my complaint with something to be thankful for. For instance, “My boys have not been listening to me! But I am thankful that they love to play with their Legos, maybe one day they will be engineers.” During the day I may even say my thanks out loud, since I say my complaints out loud, for my family to hear. Prior to Thanksgiving, I prepared my children by letting them know we would be going around the table saying a little bit of what we are thankful for. That one statement started an outpouring of thankfulness from my children!
Thankfulness and gratitude are contagious! Before my feet hit the floor I expressed my gratitude, before my eyes closed at night I was thankful. For every little blessing and every major obstacle, I was thankful and I still am! Thankfulness has a way of kicking sorrow out of the door and throwing all of its clothes onto the street. I forgot how much joy comes from the simple act of choosing to be thankful. Without thankfulness in my everyday life I have been a disgruntled, depressed mess. Gratitude has become my weapon of choice as it helps me to defeat all of that. With so much happening in my home and life there is always something that I can find within my life to be thankful for, no matter how seemingly wrong things are going. I can always know that everything will work out for good. That includes my many years of Thanksgiving neglect, parenting, and homeschool mistakes.
My Action Plan For Thanksgiving Season 2016
- To have an abundance of Thanksgiving songs to play for my family
- To be more organized and more intentional in planning how we show our gratitude
- To have a planned lesson on the origins of Thanksgiving
- To give more opportunities to my children to show their gratitude towards each other, their family, friends, strangers at the store or on the street and ultimately GOD.
If you have any music suggestions let me know in the comment box below!