Remembering why we celebrate

by Kellie Bishop

Turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberries, family, friends, football and Black Friday are just a few of the things we tend to associate with Thanksgiving. Kids anticipate a few days off from school while enjoying good food with family and friends. The roads are filled with people travelling to be with loved ones for the holiday that kicks off the holiday season. 

In the midst of all the travelling, cooking and shopping, how often do we stop and appreciate our blessings the way that was intended on this holiday? How many of us take the time to make sure our children understand that the holiday is about much more than just a long weekend and a big meal with family? It is important for us to remember the real meaning of holidays as we celebrate them. 

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, let’s take a few minutes to remember why we celebrate this holiday. The Pilgrims came to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620 seeking religious freedom from the King of England. Upon landing in Plymouth, they had a long, cold winter with little food or shelter. However, they befriended the Native Americans who lived in the region, and the Native Americans helped them survive. Although many Pilgrims did not survive the first year, those who did had plentiful fall harvests of crops grown from plants and seeds gifted to them by the Native Americans. The Pilgrims wanted to celebrate the blessings they had been given so they had a large, three-day feast and invited the Native Americans who helped them to enjoy the food they helped harvest. That feast is now known as the first Thanksgiving and has remained an important tradition that we celebrate each November in the United States. 

It isn’t important for us to remember the story of Thanksgiving, just to know the history of the holiday. It is important to teach our children the real meaning behind the holiday and open up the discussion about why it is important. There are many lessons we can teach our kids from the Thanksgiving story. 

In a world in which kids are accustomed to instant gratification, the story of the first Thanksgiving teaches the importance of hard work, perseverance and team work to accomplish great things. Additionally, we now live in a culture that tends to emphasize the differences among us and use those differences to generate tension. However, the story of the first Thanksgiving is a good reminder for all of us, and a great lesson for our children, about the growth that can happen when we come together as friends and help one another despite our differences. Finally, the concept of being thankful for our blessings and taking the time to give thanks for those blessings is a vital lesson to make sure children understand and practice.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, bringing with it a great deal of travel, shopping, gatherings and joy. This year, I hope we all remember the story of the first Thanksgiving, teach our children the story and the importance of it, and stay safe. May you all have a very happy Thanksgiving! 

Kellie Bishop
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