Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There is good food, lots of family and friends, and no pressure to buy gifts. It is also the kickoff for the Christmas season (which seems way too short in my opinion). The smells of cinnamon and clove, nutmeg and pumpkin. The chattering of dear loved ones gathering together all for one purpose: to give thanks for all that we have.

I prepare my children for Thanksgiving all November long. We read books like The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving, Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, and The Very First Thanksgiving Day. Each of these books is written for younger children in order for them to learn about the history of why we celebrate this day. The history is the most important part for me. Otherwise, the day is meaningless. We have set this particular day aside each year to be thankful for our religious freedoms in this country. It is also to give thanks to the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims those first years. Without them, the Pilgrims would not have survived.

After we read about the history of Thanksgiving Day, we go over some of the most important facts that we learned. I write these out for the children to copy and draw pictures of later. We also like to review the meaning of thankfulness. Being thankful means being grateful for something or someone and showing appreciation for them. Being thankful means showing our gratitude through words, actions, thoughts, and prayers.

For the past few years we have made a “Thankful Tree”. With brown construction paper I cut out the shape of a tree trunk and branches. With fall-colored construction paper I cut out leaves in all shapes and sizes. Each day in the month of November we each write down one thing, person, etc. that we are thankful for. We tape the tree trunk to the wall in our school room and each day we tape the leaves to the wall as we fill them out. By the end of the month, the tree is completely filled with all of our blessings.

As Thanksgiving gets closer, I like to talk about the different types of food we eat on that day. Usually, this involves turkey (of course!), potatoes, stuffing, pies, sweet potatoes, and so much more. I then ask the boys what foods they think were at the first Thanksgiving. They always get a kick out of the Pilgrims and Native Americans eating venison, fish, and corn.

We draw pictures and color them of the various types of foods we and they have eaten on Thanksgiving. We draw pictures of the Pilgrims and Native Americans. We also draw pictures of our loved ones that we will see that day.

However you celebrate Thanksgiving, just remember that is actually about being thankful for your blessings. We all have at least one thing to thank God for each day. Thanksgiving the is perfect time to let others know how much we care about them and appreciate them and love them. It is also the perfect time to learn about the history of Thanksgiving and the reasons why we celebrate that day.