I’m not sure why; during my adulthood, I’d jump out of my Halloween costume and begin preparing for Christmas. It wasn’t until one year at ages 10 and 17 my children asked why we never celebrate Thanksgiving. I didn’t have an answer for them at that precise moment. My only thought was a memory of frustration years before in an attempt at cooking my first turkey. After thawing it for obviously not long enough, it was still frozen after retrieving it from the oven. I did learn how to prepare a delightful turkey along with all the fixings and what it really boiled down to being too much work for a single mom to celebrate both holidays. Besides, I’d always remained thankful throughout the year in recognizing our many blessings and simply hadn’t given the actual holiday much thought. It was no different than my birthday, simply another day. As it turned out, my children informed me that Thanksgiving was their favorite holiday and that year they proposed an idea to celebrate their favorite time of the year along with mine which is Christmas, by starting a new family tradition.
My children have always been much more outgoing than I was. They have always been thankful for not having to go without basic neccessities as well as a mother to look out for them unlike many of their classmates. They became motivated and wanted to do something for those who didn’t have anyone or perhaps were lonely during the season by offering them a reminder that there is always something to be thankful for. Many of their friends didn’t have a turkey on the table or gifts under the Christmas tree, while others took having a nice meal every day and a pair of new Jordans under the tree for granted. As a family we decided to give gifts to those who visited our home during the holiday seasons or those who were just a friendly face in the neighborhood. All they’re asked to do is write in a tiny book we hankg on the wall without Christmas stockings called “silent night”, what they are thankful for. In turn they choose a gift from Santa’s bag of goodies to take with them. Now these are by no means expensive or elaborate gifts, but more like tokens we’ve collected throughout the year. “Our daily Bread” is constantly sending me journals, calendars and various useful items in the mail. You’d be surprised how much “stuff” one can accumulate in eleven months. Candles, slippers that were a gift from someone else, but don’t fit, various books and giftcards to places we may not frequent and the list goes on. We wrap them all in a solid-colored paper to distinguish the difference between our family gifts, because often times a few are left over from the previous year.
Many people don’t get gifts for their birthdays or other holidays for a variety of reasons, but my children don’t like the idea of knowing someone may be left out and shouldn’t be, at least not during the magical time of Thanksgiving and Christmas so we in our own way, combined the two. The best part is not only seeing the smiles of surprise on people’s faces in awe that they were thought of, but also revisiting the tiny silent night book every year and reading what people (including our family) are thankful for. It is extremely heartwarming to witness the growth. Some have expressed to us that it wasn’t about the actual gift for them, but the gesture itself providing hope and motivating them to pay it forward in one way or another. I am thankful for such caring children because with this family tradition that has now been fourteen years for us, I too was reminded that there is in fact ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Happy Holiday Season to Everyone!!!!