crafty play: gratitude 🥧
a reckoning with thanksgiving & the practice of gratefulness.
Hi there mom, aunts & design lovers!
For the longest time Thanksgiving was a foreign concept to me. It is not a holiday I grew up with and turkey is still a flavor I’m not quite fond of. Having been raised on a steady diet of fish and plantains with a side of panela con limón to combat the heat, sweat-inducing dinners have never been my cup of tea. In fact, the first time I laid eyes on a cranberry was soon after my 27th birthday and I must confess that stuffing instills a lot of suspicion in me: why is there wet bread in it? and why is it not stuffed in anything? Just—why?
The origins of this tradition and the revisionism of it all have long puzzled me. Seems odd to celebrate such history with pilgrim hats imagery, including neither corn nor an effort in giving back to native communities around the country who see this holiday as a dark stain in their history.
All these reasons (not just the stuffing) strike an unsavory cord to say the least, and the incongruences behind Thanksgiving celebrations have pushed me towards rebranding this holiday into the more digestible proposition of an americanized harvest festival. An idea by far more palatable.
This year an unexpected act of kindness partially shifted my perspective on how I would approach the dreaded Thanksgiving lesson as my girls grow up. A friend mailed us some children’s books on the subject of gratitude to get in the spirit of the holiday. Through this simple deed, a seedling of something beautiful was planted: the thought that Thanksgiving could be more than unwanted stuffing. It is an opportunity to practice gratitude, to teach my girls how to be thankful and in the same breath remind myself to take a moment and do the same.
Just like Christmas easily slips into a present extravaganza while we forget to reminisce on sharing. Thanksgiving seems to be all about the food, leaving aside its most valuable attribute: remembering to say thanks. So as I keep on celebrating this holiday in the spirit of its pagan alternative—because I don’t think the historical one will ever sit quite right with me—my intention is to make new traditions with my little ones focusing on gratitude and passing on acts of kindness during this time of the year. Thank you Jenn for the books and the humbling reminder to practice thankfulness.
Here are some thanks & giving traditions disguised as crafts I’m hoping to include in the month of November from this year on…
You may use construction paper or print these pretty prompts I’ve made for you. During these next 2 weeks write on little strips of paper what you are grateful for, things you love about your life or family and what gratitude means to you. Keep these notes in a jar and crack it open on Thanksgiving day for the kids to fashion a paper chain with the help of some stick glue. The chain can be hung as decoration around the house after they’ve completed it.
Appreciation Scavenger Hunt
This one is for older kids, so I will need to wait a couple of years to try it. Regardless, it seems like a great way to keep the littles busy for a hot minute while you sit on the couch sipping on something warm. Use the list below to get you started on things they can find around the house and make up some of your own if you wish to extend your sofa residency. For extra credit you may ask them these questions as a follow up on each item:
Why did you chose this?
What do you love about it?
Make sure you let them know that putting the item back in its place is part of the game!
I love the idea of sending Thank You cards to friends and family just because. All you need are stamps, postcards and some colored pencils. Let your kids write notes or draw pictures of things they are grateful for. Take a trip to the mailbox and send these postcards off together. Simple and guaranteed to bring much joy to those around you.
Books on Gratitude
And of course, inspired by my generous friend, Novemeber will be filled with books on gratitude. Here’s a list of thoughtful reads to get you started:
Apple Cake by Casey Dawn: a little girl shows appreciation for all the things that help her bake an apple cake. Beautifully illustrated by Geneviève Godbout, the apple cake recipe at the end is a great touch that can help you bring the book to life alongside your family.
The Thank You Letter by Jane Cabrera: celebrate gratitude and simple ways of brightening others' days with this sweet, brightly illustrated story about a girl's letters and her town's heartwarming response.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña: exploring the special bond between a curious young boy and his loving grandmother during a bus ride, this book is an inclusive ode to kindness and finding joy in unexpected places.
Thank you, Omu! by Oge Mora: this is the story of a woman named Omu who makes a delicious stew and shares it with her community. A sweet message of kindness and thoughtfulness.
Fried Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard: rich with smells and sounds, this book radiates with Native American pride, the sharing of traditions and the love of family. An important one to read during the holidays.
Happy harvest everyone!