17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I have to admit, there aren't many times I long to go back to my NYC living days. Don't get me wrong, we absolutely LOVED our time there, but it is my nature to fully invest and enjoy whatever life I am in at the moment and not wish it were something else. Anyway, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the exceptions.

Right now, I miss NYC terribly. I miss spending each Thanksgiving morning huddled together with our friends, sipping hot chocolate as we watched the Macy's parade balloons float by. Then a nice walk through Central Park on our way back home to turkey's that may or may not have cooked, to gravy that may or may not been edible (my dh will never forget the "Great Gravy-less" Thanksgiving of 2005) or to burned orange rolls. There was also one year we tried ordering our Thanksgiving meal from Boston Market to save time and hassle only to have the taxi get a flat tire on the way back home introducing a big hassle of it's own. That year, we also leaned the bed of our studio apartment against the wall and ate dinner picnic style on the floor because we didn't have near enough seating to accommodate everyone.

We tried our best to recreate the Thanksgiving dinner's of our childhood and though we rarely succeeded, figuring it out with friends made memories that I will always be thankful for.

On another Thanksgiving note, dh and I had to give our "we've just moved into the ward" sacrament meeting talks in church last week. We were assigned the timely topic of "Gratitude". During my preparations, I came across this article on teaching our children gratitude. Not only did I love her practical suggestions, both dh and I were struck by her description of how parents often teach gratitude in negative ways, like:

"You ought to be grateful for all the stuff you have," we tell them angrily after we have tripped over their toys for the 10th time.

Or we often using something she calls "reverse envy". In this case it goes something like this: "You should be grateful for your toys because there are some children who don't have any toys"

I know that I have been guilty of using both methods. Not because I necessarily thought that they are particularly effective ways to teach gratitude to children, but mostly because those are the words that often come out in the moment. But I never really thought about the real negative effects this type of teaching could have on my children - especially the "reverse envy" which has the ability to produce feeling of guilt and pride instead of true gratitude. It seems genuine gratitude comes from a deeper place than the shallow comparison of what you have to what others may not have. Maybe it is a place for some people to start, but to build your gratitude on this "reverse envy" base is shaky at best. Because even if everything material is taken away from you, an attitude of gratitude should still be able to live on. In fact, studies done on the psychology of gratitude have shown:

Grateful people are not necessarily ones whom the world has showered with gifts; people of modest financial means or who have suffered personal tragedies nevertheless may report themselves as grateful, while the well-to-do and good-looking may exhibit little gratitude.

We all have so much to be thankful for no matter our circumstances in this life.

If you have a second, you should go over and read the article (and this one is really interesting too). Again, I love her practical and positive ideas on how to teach children gratitude. At this time of the year (though I know an attitude of gratitude should know no season as it has been called "the essence of our worship" on more than one occasion), I am especially motivated to work harder to have the spirit of gratitude in my home.

What kinds of gratitude inspiring activities have you tried in your home. Are there things that you do that help keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive all year ? (I would also love to hear your Thanksgiving dinner mishaps if you have 'em, just so I don't feel quite so alone :)


  • Thanks for those links. I was reminded of the great importance that gratefulness plays in our lives. I know I'll benefit from that.

    I have a turkey-day story. We were living far from home, in a border town in Texas, and it was the one and only time we've tried to make a turkey on our own. We worked SOOO hard to have the BEST recipe and directions to make it. I printed of a complicated recipe of seasonings, etc from MarthaStewart's website, and was hoping for that wonderful flavor that would help me be reminded of home.
    Anyway, we put the turkey in, and I don't know if our temp thing was off or what, but lets just say we didn't take the turkey out to eat until like 9 pm at night and it was SO NOT what I was hoping for. We didn't eat until like 10pm, and it was so dry it was like turkey jerky!! Oh well.
    So now we live by my parents and while we always Host the holidays, my MOM brings the turkey!!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 11/19/2007 10:27:00 AM  

  • Reading about "reverse envy" was very interesting. I definitely appreciate reading this post before my little one is old enough for me to make comments like these.

    "The Great gravy-less" Thanksgiving. So funny. I will never forget my bro putting that gravy over his whole meal and eating the whole thing because he had a cold and couldn't taste it.
    posted by Blogger Linz at 11/19/2007 10:43:00 AM  

  • I'm STILL haunted by the great gravy-less Thanksgiving. Me, the girl who does not taste while she cooks, getting the first taste and yelling:
    STOP! DON'T EAT THE GRAVY! and Carrie's dh demanding a T-Day meal re-do a few days later!!!

    I was assigned the gratitude talk about 8 years ago, and it really changed my outlook and my prayers...it's had a lasting affect....I heart gratitude.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 11/19/2007 11:03:00 AM  

  • I am making my first ever Thanksgiving dinner on my own this week and hearing your misshapes makes me feel better about what I am getting myself into. I shooting for edible, maybe next year I'll have a story to tell.
    posted by Blogger Jessie Jo at 11/19/2007 07:25:00 PM  

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