Creative Child

Thanksgiving – The Holiday We Shouldn’t Overlook

by Rebecca Eanes

I bought a Christmas tree a few days ago. In the middle of October, I strolled into the decked halls of the Christmas section and picked up a new tree. I passed through the Halloween section on my way there. Thanksgiving was nowhere in sight. Where has Thanksgiving gone, and why are we so eager to skip the season of Thanksgiving?

Don’t worry. I won’t berate you for putting your tree up in November. I, too, enjoy the Christmas cheer! I’m only suggesting that we take a beat to observe the season of Thanksgiving – to nestle into all it has to offer our children and ourselves – before we head straight into the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Here are a few reasons we shouldn’t overlook Thanksgiving.

Nature

The world is beautiful this time of year. Before we wish for enough snow to build a snowman, let’s pause with our children to admire the beauty of autumn. I believe one of the best gifts we can give our children is to teach them to pause and savor the season they are in. Each season has a purpose, both in nature and in our lives. I think we are all guilty of wishing too much away, of looking ahead to the next season without fully embracing the one we’re in. Take time to walk with your kids through the forest, to jump in puddles before they ice over, to talk about the colorful trees before they are bare once again. It isn’t just the falling leaves that we can observe with children, but the nature of cycles and rhythms and the value of embracing the present. By slowing down to observe Thanksgiving, you are, at least in some small way, teaching your kids how to pause and enjoy the moment while giving this gift to yourself as well.

Delayed Gratification

Of course children are eager for the Christmas season. Toys and gifts, early dismissals and school closings, snowmen and sledding! It’s definitely more exciting than the often dreary end of November, but children who can delay gratification do better in school, have fewer behavioral problems, and end up with higher SAT scores. As adults, they complete college at higher rates and go on to earn higher incomes whereas children who have the most trouble delaying gratification are more likely to struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. These were the results of the infamous marshmallow study in the 1960’s. While a more recent study challenges those findings to a degree, a strong correlation was still found between the ability to delay gratification and future success.

What does Thanksgiving have to do with delayed gratification? Rather than moving instantly from the excitement of Trick or Treating (getting) and the fun of Christmas (getting), taking time to focus on Thanksgiving (giving) helps children build their patience skills – to not only wait for the next time they get something but to spend time dwelling in the place of giving thanks for what they already have. It’s a valuable skill and another often unseen benefit of Thanksgiving.

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