Thanksgiving memories trigger thoughts

Parent Connection

November 12, 2009 

As I continue to muddle through this stage of existence called midlife, it's funny what I remember.

The holidays are fast approaching and I find myself already looking forward to the feasts that accompany this time of year. I also find myself reflecting on holidays past.

It is Thanksgiving morning and I'm kneeling up on a kitchen chair, chatting with my mom, who has been up for hours. As I spoon down my bowl of cornflakes, I ask her the question I asked each Thanksgiving morning, "Can I help grind up the cranberry stuff again this year?"

The answer from dear ol' mom was always, "Of course," as she smiled and reached down under the kitchen cabinet. Out came the not-so-shiny silver metal contraption used once or twice a year to assist in making the best cranberry casserole in the world.

Mom patiently set up the hand-cranked thingy and got out the oranges, cranberries and nuts. She then left me alone while I took twice as long and made double the mess than Mom, if she had simply done it herself.

Then, together, we dumped the ingredients into a worn casserole dish. Sure, I helped clean up after I was finished cranking, but many of you moms know darn well how "helpful" little boys can be.

Thanksgiving.

Just what does my childhood memory mean for us today, in this, a parenting column?

My memories of Thanksgiving morning are as warm as the turkey in the oven because I was not only content for the little events in life, but felt thankful. Imagine that in an era when there seems to be fewer and fewer kids who have any sense of gratitude.

I don't think that I'm being radical or unrealistic when I say this Thanksgiving, let's all make it a priority to begin to change the sense of ungratefulness in the hearts of our children.

I'm not saying that every child is never thankful for anything, but if we continue down the road of apathy and offer little sense of gratitude to our kids, one can't help but wonder how Thanksgiving will be celebrated in the future. Perhaps it will be known as Entitlement Day.

That way, all can expect to have the day off to be lazy, eat too much and generally reward oneself because we are due.

Teaching children to be thankful will begin with frank discussion, changing what overindulging parents do for their children, and making gratitude an expectation, not simply a hope. Parents may find that in our present economy there isn't a better time to hold back the stuff given to kids, slow down the constant entertainment, and acknowledge we all need to do a better job of putting others before self.

Thanksgiving began with a group of folks so determined to pursue new found freedoms that they endured unspeakable hardships in order to do so.

No wonder they were so thankful.

Perhaps we need to reflect on just what it is this generation of children is pursing for the future. It's up to all parents to help determine such priorities.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Bryan Greeson, a nationally certified School Psychologist residing in Gastonia, NC, answers your questions. E-Mail him at parentconnection@hotmail.com.

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