It’s easy to fall into the Thanksgiving routine of turkey, pumpkin pie and football. This holiday has become so ingrained in American culture, that it can often be easy to forget its historic or cultural significance.
Your children are certain to learn the history of Thanksgiving at one point or another in school. But are they learning it the right way?
Here are some recommendations on key lessons to take away and share with your children this holiday season:
Give Back: Thanksgiving is often a time of mass consumption, and it can be easy for kids to forget that most people (in the U.S. and across the globe) don’t have the luxuries they do during the holiday season. Take advantage of having Friday off and take your family to volunteer. Huffington Post compiled a Thanksgiving-specific service list with some great ideas for volunteer opportunities in your area.
To fit volunteering into your schedule throughout the year, read our guide to community service for busy students.
Stay Healthy: Thanksgiving is a time to indulge, and one of the few times of the year most of us can do it without much guilt. But as much as the holiday is about the food, Thanksgiving is also about spending time with your family, and one of the best ways to do this is with a group run! Turkey Trots are hugely popular the morning of Thanksgiving, and a running website like Active.com can help you find one right near you. Browse through local 5Ks, 10Ks and trail runs to find the perfect event for you and your family. Then feel free to inhale as much pumpkin pie as you want!
Read here for advice about ensuring your children get the right amount of exercise in school.
Be Thankful: We know its a cliche. Sit around the dining room table before dinner, and each person takes a turn to share what they’re thankful for. But as cheesy as it might seem, and as many eye rolls or giggles as you might get from the kids, its a worthwhile exercise.
Let the adults go first, to give the kids some time to think about it. Share a mix of things that are both light hearted (“We’re so thankful that the turkey didn’t burn like last year!”) and a bit more serious (“We’re thankful to have all our loved ones with us to share this special day”).
You can also turn this exercise into more of a game. Have everyone write down what they’re thankful for on a piece of paper and have others around the table guess who wrote what. Or if your family is particularly artsy, turn this into an arts and crafts project by creating a collage or decorating a table cloth with words and images that represent what everyone is thankful for.
Want to remember to be thankful throughout the year? Download the Gratitude Journal, as featured on our “Ten Apps for Healthy Habits.”
Tell the Story: Thanksgiving is unique to North America and only seriously celebrated in the United States and Canada). So more so than most other holidays (Boxing Day anyone?), it is particularly important for us to understand the historical significance behind this celebration.
Your children have no doubt heard the short and sweet Thanksgiving story in school. But as most adults know, the history of this holiday is far more nuanced than a simple harvest between the pilgrims and the Native Americans.
Teach your children the real history behind this festive day, with some of these helpful resources: