Heighten Cultural Awareness: Use the Holiday and Tradition as a Teaching Tool By Latasha Schraeder

A succulent, stuffed turkey, jellied cranberries, candied yams and all the trimmings are what we’ve come to expect on the fourth Thursday of each November. During the holidays each family continues their traditions and perhaps establishes new ones, too. Amidst the festivities, take the time to discuss the origin of each tradition with your children.

Countless traditions exist besides the time-honored Thanksgiving indulgences. Given that a tradition is an inherited, established or customary pattern of thought, action or behavior as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary the holidays are rich in tradition. For instance, some families incorporate a prayer. Another may take family photos. Whatever your family traditions are, there will be ample opportunity to communicate the importance of tradition to your children.

National holidays also present parents with an opportunity to discuss our nation’s history. Thanksgiving originated four centuries ago as a celebration of the first successful autumn harvest time for pilgrims in the original colony, Plymouth. Woefully, with the commercialization of holidays, countless children are not aware of why Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

Begin a propensity for volunteerism in your children. Experiencing a feeling of delight, relishing a sense of accomplishment and displaying selflessness are priceless lessons that will serve your children well in the years to come. Reach out to local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and charitable organizations to discover volunteer opportunities.

Our children are fortunate in that our nation is a “mixing pot” of cultures, ethnicities and religions. Since Thanksgiving is a holiday that sprang from our country’s origins, it is celebrated only in the United States. The holiday provides parents with an opportunity to have discussions with their children about other cultures and celebrations that take place in other countries such as France’s Bastille Day or the Chinese New Year. Express to your children that differences are to be celebrated. Incite their curiosity!

May this holiday season be one of blissful refection, discovery and abundance. Be ingenious. My sincerest desire is that you and your children experience an especially heartfelt season of gratitude.

Be your child’s fiercest advocate.