I remember growing up reading “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein and doing various other activities around Thanksgiving to better realize what being thankful meant and why Thanksgiving wasn’t just about stuffing myself to near comatose levels and watching football. Don’t get me wrong, I love that part of the day, but with little ones of my own now, I wanted to start teaching them early about being grateful and thankful for all we are blessed with in our lives. This year has been incredible and even with the usual struggles (money, time, etc.) we are extremely lucky. So, at 1, 3 and 10, I really wanted my children to begin to understand why. As I sat pondering how to discuss thankfulness to such a wide age range, I remembered a cute Thanksgiving craft idea I saw a few years back that would be perfect!
The “Thankful Tree” came to life in our lives this year and even though November has just started, it has been such a great experience. If you aren’t familiar with the idea, you put up a bare paper tree and cut out several blank leaves. Each day you discuss being thankful and have the kids each write or tell you something they are thankful for. I decided to also put their initials on the back and the date so I could look over the progression of their answers in the next few weeks and to scrapbook and show them when they are older. As you can see from the picture, the first day’s answers weren’t exactly the mind-blowing responses every mom longs to hear, but they had every bit of the childhood innocence I hope they never lose. Day 1 produced “Puzzles” from my 3-year-old and “Coloring” from the 1-year-old. The next evening, we again talked about being thankful and this time around they came up with “Family.” On the third night, we again talked about being blessed and the 10-year-old produced an answer I’m sure he thought I just wanted to hear, “Life.” For the next few weeks, we will continue the discussion and the leaves until the tree is full and we are gathered with our family enjoying a bountiful feast. I can’t wait to watch the transformation of not only this years answers, (and yes, I am sure “Mickey” will make the list at least once from one of them) but for all of the years to come. This is one Thanksgiving tradition I definitely won’t feel guilty about enjoying every year. (More pie, please!)