Recently we've had a lot of conversations about Thanksgiving at our house. Now that my toddler is 3 it feels like the first year where she can have some real understanding about the changing seasons, the holidays, and family traditions. Plus, several things I've read have inspired me to delve a little deeper into what it all means, like a review of this book by Margret Visser that points out that gratitude is more than just saying "thanks." Visser's idea is that it's of a kind of worldview, a way of paying attention, and a way of deliberately beholding and appreciating another person. Then I read this post over at Wide Open Spaces about the author's efforts to instill gratitude in her kids by making handmade thank-you cards to give to the people they appreciate.
So finally my hubby and I set out to teach my daughter more about the deeper layers of Thanksgiving. At preschool she's learned about the Pilgrims. We've talked about the mechanics of Thanksgiving, so she knows that we'll watch a parade, have a big meal with special people, and eat pumpkin pie. Each time we have a conversation I explain a few things, we discuss back and forth, and then at some point a look of understanding crosses her face. She looks pleased, and I'm assured that she actually understands what I'm trying to tell her. Well, maybe. But maybe not.
There have been a couple of conversations that didn't end like I had initially expected when that proud look of comprehension first appeared on my toddler's face. First we talked about being thankful. We talked about what it means, what I'm thankful for, and what my hubby is thankful for. Then when I thought she was ready, I asked my toddler what she was thankful for. She had anticipated the question. Her face brightened and she looked very proud. Then she answered, "Myself." I tried not to giggle, since I was being so serious about it all and she clearly was missing most of what I was saying. So I patiently gave her a few more examples, then asked her again what she was thankful for. Her answer? "My shirt."
This morning we discussed the Thanksgiving celebration they had at my toddler's preschool yesterday. We're vegetarians, so I had sent soy chicken for her to eat instead of turkey. So we were discussing what people eat on Thanksgiving, and how the three of us don't eat ALL the same things that other people eat because we're vegetarians. Again we reached the point when comprehension crossed her face. She got really excited, bouncing on the bed. Then she announced, "Yeah, we're veg-e-tarians. That means that we don't eat regular turkey. We eat big, GIANT turkeys!"
So I've realized another thing I'm thankful for ~ laughter.
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