Monday, November 19, 2012

No Presents on Thanksgiving??

Photo by Brittany Whitlock
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. There isn't the pressure to find the perfect gift or throw the biggest backyard barbecue. It is a time to enjoy being with family and to take a moment to be thankful for the good things in your life. I have read many articles recently about the sense of entitlement and what a parent should to do to make sure their kids avoid this “affluenza” (term borrowed from Clark Howard!). I think that one of the best ways to teach and model gratefulness is to create family traditions that honor this quality.

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. We were a family of four and had many extended family members that lived in the same town. Thanksgiving for us was about having a wonderful meal with my grandmother and occasionally my Great Aunt. I can remember waking up in the morning and smelling coffee and hearing laughter in the kitchen. I was never quite sure what time my grandmother arrived but it was usually well before I rolled out of bed. My mother, grandmother and I would spend the morning cooking and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. By noon, my dad and brother would start wandering through the kitchen, snitching little bites of stuffing or cake, especially my grandmother’s stacked apple cake. Even as a sometimes surly teenager, I looked forward to the peace that I felt within the traditions that my family created.

Mom, Dad & Me
Thanksgiving for us wasn't about fancy tablecloths, silver candle holders or gourmet spices for the stuffing. It was much more than that. It was about family and love and consistency. When my kids were a bit younger, one of them mentioned that Thanksgiving needed to have presents. What good was a holiday if you didn't get new stuff?

But as they have gotten older, my kids want to know when they will see their cousins, am I making my stuffing for the turkey & the yeast rolls and will the weather cooperate for the backyard football game. Occasionally, one of my kids will even watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with me.

Over time, the simple traditions can often outweigh the entitlement trap.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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