The year before we had our first child, I heard a radio program with Dennis & Barbara Rainey concerning the holiday of Thanksgiving. It inspired me to want to teach my children the values, hardships, and blessings found in our nation's history. I realized how little I knew about the first Thanksgiving with it's rich heritage of freedom and faith. I immediately bought Barbara Rainey's book, Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember. (It also comes with a lovely CD of Thanksgiving music - a rarity!)
It can be read in it's entirety in one sitting, or divided into the days before Thanksgiving, or even just the bold portions read if little ones are present and not able to sit for long. This has been our main Thanksgiving tradition since our oldest was a baby. We read through the book in one of those three ways mentioned and write three things as a family for which we are thankful for each year in the back of the book. There have been years when we read it around a breakfast of french toast or cinnamon rolls, while other years we read it in the car on our way to my grandma's house.
Slowly, I am learning that it really doesn't matter how we celebrate each holiday, but instead with what attitude are we celebrating. I can easily become consumed with expectations (that I have put upon myself) of having the perfect breakfast and spending time everyday before Thanksgiving having my children write notes of gratitude on a perfect little Thanksgiving tree, banner, or whatever else I've stumbled upon on Pinterest. Please don't get me wrong. All of these things have the right intentions behind them. But if I don't have time to do them, and all we accomplish is read books from the library on Thanksgiving, then it's ok. There are different seasons in life...
Here are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving books; some we've collected, some from the library. (Thanks again to my sweet husband for putting together these rain gutter bookshelves in our littlest girls' room.)
- Sarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra
- T'was the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey (one of our favorites!) - Click on the title to watch a video of the story
- An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott - classic!
- A Pioneer Thanksgiving by Barbara Greenwood
- The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene
- Saying Grace: A Prayer of Thanksgiving by Virginia Kroll
- The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George - beautiful illustrations!
- Over the River and Through the Woods by Lydia Child - a modern day view.
- The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern
There really are some incredible ideas out there to help guide our families to have the right perspective for Thanksgiving. We've done of few of these in the past and may do others in the future. Once again, I believe the key is having the attitude that Thanksgiving is all about what God has done in the past, what He is doing now, and choosing to be thankful for the blessings He's given us.
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - I Thessalonians 5:16-18