We’re preparing for Thanksgiving around our house, as many Americans are doing this week. This year the boys have really taken Thanksgiving to heart and we’ve had several interesting conversations with them. Their thoughts have been surprisingly insightful. I thought I’d share a little of what they had to say.
We have kept a thankful pumpkin during this month to remind us of all we have to be grateful for. I wondered how the boys would react to this activity, but they went after it with gusto!
Sam: “Mommy, I’m thankful for God, Jesus, and you.” I smiled at him, feeling a little warm and fuzzy. “And Halloween candy. Be sure you write down the candy!” Ah yes. At least he had the order right!
Will: “I’m thankful for wifi!”
Me: “Wifi? How do you even know what that is?”
Will: “Mo–ooom, I just know.” (Sigh)
Me: “Ok, so why are you thankful for wifi?”
Will: “Because with wifi we can Skype with our grandparents and daddy when he’s away!” My heart melted a little at that.
This morning I asked them again what they were thankful for.
Sam: “My hands!”
Me: “Why your hands?”
Sam: “Because I can do so many things with them. Like….eat breakfast. And lunch and dinner!” That is a good thing to be thankful about, I thought.
Will answered my question with “Spiders!”
Me: “Spiders? Why are you thankful for spiders?” He likes to pull my leg and I figured he was just being funny.
Will: “Wellll….Spiders eat bugs. And if there were no spiders there would be too many bugs. They would be everywhere and I don’t like bugs. SO, I’m thankful for spiders.”
Me: “Yes….well….yes. That is definitely a good purpose for spiders and a reason to be thankful!” I shuddered. I hate spiders.
The other evening I went to a women’s event at our church: Jingle and Mingle. It was a fun evening of tasty treats, conversation, shopping from mission-minded vendors, and a singer/speaker who brought a message of hope. The proceeds of the event went to helping women in need. A friend of mine was the hostess at our table and she told us to take home some of the festive decorations surrounding our place settings as a gift.
The next day, Sam, who is five, was admiring the red ornaments with glittery white snowflakes and reindeer painted on them. Taking them, I grinned. “What do you think about this?” I attached them to my earrings and paraded around. My plan was to make him giggle. But instead he looked at me with serious concern.
“Mommy, no. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. You can’t have Christmas earrings now. No.”
I grinned at him and ruffled his hair. I agreed. It wasn’t time.
The next day our family was driving through town as the sun was setting. Christmas lights appeared in the trees lining the main streets of town and a large statue of Santa waved from the front lawn of the county seat building. I pointed out the bright decorations, thinking it would delight my children.
“Oh no!” Will, my six-year-old, cried. “Mommy, why are the Christmas lights up? Why did they bring out Santa already? We haven’t had Thanksgiving yet!”
“Thanksgiving is important!” Sam said gravely. “That’s when we gather together and we give….” Insert long pause. “We give thanks to the pilgrims.”
“Um….we give thanks to the pilgrims?” I asked.
“No!” Will interjected emphatically. “We give thanks to God, LIKE the pilgrims! But we can’t celebrate Christmas yet! IT’S NOT TIME! These people need a calendar!”
“Yep. They need a calendar…or a watch. Or a phone,” said Sam. “I guess they just don’t know what time it is!”
I was speechless—and had to hold back the giggles. They were so serious! I’ve never laid down an absolute time-table for Christmas, though traditionally it waits until a day or two after Thanksgiving. Apparently my boys have an opinion on this! (I blame their father…ha!)
The Thanksgiving conversations continued a couple days later. The boys were excited about the celebrations their classrooms were planning. Will detailed the feast planned for his first-grade class:
“We’ll have goldfish and pretzels and crackers…but no meat! We can’t have meat!”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Well, because a lot of the kids are allergic to it.”
“Some of the kids in your class have a meat allergy?”
“Well…see, when you bring in the meat and you chop off its head, there’s blood” He gestured, miming holding a carcass and chopping off its head. This conversation was NOT going the direction I anticipated.
He continued, “You have to sprinkle the blood that falls on the floor with stuff to clean it up and there’s pollen in the sprinkle stuff and that’s what a lot of kids are allergic to.”
Ahhh yes. Pollen! That’s why no dead animals can be brought into class for Thanksgiving! Why didn’t I think of that? The boys asked if I was ok when I began coughing with laughter. I smiled and wiped my eyes.
My sons have it right. Thanksgiving—and Christmas—are a greater matter than decorations. There is a purpose to Thanksgiving more profound than an opportunity to pull out our elastic-waist pants so we can indulge in comfort. We have much to be grateful for, and if we take a few moments to think beyond the obvious blessings we enjoy, we’ll discover a world of joy and beauty far deeper than the shallow delights of tinsel and turkey. It’s a humbling truth. One worth pursuing beyond November.