Some tips for an authentic and peaceful Thanksgiving dinner with your children and extended family

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Thanksgiving is coming, and families do their best to have it be a joyful and harmonious time for sharing around the hearth. However - as we all know! - things can get contentious: for me it was my found political views as a first-year college student in 1968 clashing with my parents and my traditional Italian relatives. SO - maybe some prior preparation is in order?


1)      Do your homework: what really happened that day? Go to  to get a perspective on the holiday that shows a more comprehensive sense of Europeans encountering indigenous people in Massachusetts. There really was a feast of thanksgiving, but the historical story is much more nuanced.

2)     Put your kids to work: a) include your children in planning the meal by getting a copy of the likely first Thanksgiving menu on line; b) discuss why these foods were chosen and why we might want to celebrate with the same foods today; c) have your children prepare some of the dishes - what a great math lesson cooking from a recipe can be!

3)     Have your children prepare short readings to share their newfound knowledge about the day - check out the children's Haggadahs used at Passover seders. Children are natural-born culture changers: they create a new classroom peer culture every new school year. Let your children lead your family members into more inclusive thinking about this holiday.

4)     The present polarization of our nation can easily divide your Thanksgiving table: set some ground rules regarding political discussions before everyone sits down at the table. If need be have a "designated politics space" away from the dining room for those who insist on such discussions. Let this meal be a "common ground" from which civil discussion might ensue after the meal in your designated space.

5)     Go around the table and have everyone express what they are grateful for - a practice I am certain many of you already do. An "attitude of gratitude" has wide-ranging healthy effects - physical, emotional, and spiritual - and will help you digest that big meal!

6)     Make a decision to support a local effort to feed one another one this day - either one of our events right here on City Island or a local organization (like POTS on Webster Avenue in the Bronx).

I hope this is helpful - many thanks for reading!

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This page contains a single entry by John published on October 8, 2018 6:47 PM.

An Accurate and Child-Friendly Thanksgiving Story to Share was the previous entry in this blog.

Having a Conflict with a Family Member? Try the Sandwich Technique! is the next entry in this blog.

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