How to Have a Happy Thanksgiving

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Cartoon of a husband and a wife with a musket. The wife says, “We’re having a traditional Thanksgiving. Here’s a musket. The turkey is in the backyard.”

It’s the holiday season in the United States and all the expectations for a perfect holiday begin tomorrow when we all gather for a feast. Unfortunately, some of those hopes will be dashed before someone says, “Pass the cranberries.”

My mom was a nurse, which meant she had to work many holidays. One of the benefits of that was while we had holiday traditions, they were flexible. We didn’t have to do the same thing every year. We could move things around our calendar, or even save an event until the next year.

That came in handy for me as a became an adult. One Thanksgiving, my poor wife had the flu. We dutifully shipped our son to the grandparents while I tended to my ill spouse. It was one unconventional Thanksgiving. She didn’t want to eat anything and I searched for a restaurant that was open.

As you begin this festive time of year, I would encourage you to be flexible. Go with the flow. Kids and spouses get sick. Relatives will probably never act the way you’d expect. Travel will always have some headaches. When it’s all over, it may be the unconventional memories you will cherish anyway.


How to deal with picky eaters at Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving can be a real challenge for parents with picky eaters.

When I was growing up, my mother had two kids that would eat about anything and two that were extremely picky eaters. I won’t tell you which one I was, however the fact I was the first-born child may give you a hint. (we first-borns tend to be parent pleasers!) has a great article on this subject. They mention this can be a problem of an affluent society where food is thrown away without a thought. This blog had some great tips for dealing with picky eaters.

  • Prepare real food as much as possible. The closest the finished form is from the farm to you the better.
  • Have the children help you prepare the food. We naturally take pride in something we’ve made.
  • Pray and thank God for your food. Just that simple act gives us a different outlook. It reminds us our food didn’t just come from a nameless farm factory.
  • If a child says he or she isn’t hungry, save the meal for the next time. It shows we don’t waste good food and reminds them food is valuable.

The Thanksgiving story is a great example to teach the kids why the Pilgrims were grateful for food. Here is a link of the first Thanksgiving for kids. Forty-six of the original one hundred-two pilgrims died before the next fall.

Find a way to encourage a child to try new things without shaming them. It can be tempting to use the old phrase, “There are people starving in… “ The goal is to teach your kids gratitude, not give them a guilt trip! And if a child gave a food an honest try and they still don’t like it, relax! We don’t have to like everything to be grateful.