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What Does Your Toddler Need To Know About Thanksgiving?

By Naomi Odes |

Thanksgiving Turkey

Gobble, gobble.

We traveled to New York City a week ago to spend time with family. My Dad recently had surgery so it’s been nice to be around during his recovery. We’ll also be here for Thanksgiving this coming week.

Since we live so far away, and we’ve added two new family members in the last three years, we haven’t been able to be with our extended family on our favorite holiday for a number of years. So this year, it’s a big treat.

Now that Shnook’s constant queries about next Halloween have curbed (or at least lessened)  it’s time to focus on Thanksgiving.

Of course, we love to cook in my family, so I’m hoping that he will be able to participate in this family ritual to an extent. Both he and  Fuzz can make their own Thanksgiving dinner in the toy kitchen set up in my mom’s dining room, which is the same one from when my sister and I were young.

Other than food traditions,  there is also the idea of giving thanks, which we’ve attempted to make the Shnook understand from an early age.

What about the story? Will you attempt to tell your toddlers any specifics about the story of Thanksgiving, or just explain some of the traditions you have in your family, or both?

I’m not sure my toddler needs to know or understand the details of stealing land from Native Americans, but do you think three is old enough to have any understanding about injustice on a large scale? I don’t know about your toddlers, but mine experience their own personal injustice at least once every seven minutes.

Would it be worth it to have this conversation pertaining to the holiday, or should you just keep it about turkey and pecan pie? What do you think?

Photo Credit: Flickr/Turtlemom4bacon


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About Naomi Odes


Naomi Odes

Naomi Odes Aytur is a blogger who's contributed on the parenting channel of Babble. She chronicles her experiences of being a new mom on her personal website, I Am Still Awake. Read bio and latest posts → Read Naomi's latest posts →

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5 thoughts on “What Does Your Toddler Need To Know About Thanksgiving?

  1. Brian Williams says:

    I’d rather emphasize the concept of sharing than the concept of injustice at this age, my daughter is 18 months and my son is almost three.

    1. Naomi says:

      Good point, Brian!

  2. Laura Vivoni says:

    I dont think there’s a need to give a toddler a talk about injustice based on the original Thanksgiving Turkey. They will learn about history in due time.

  3. Dave says:

    Interesting. According to the story, since the Plymouth colony didn’t have enough food to feed half of the colonists, the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the Pilgrims by providing food and teaching them to fish. I suppose you’re referring to King Phillip’s War about 50 years later between the Natives and the PURITANS (not the Pilgrims). The Puritans were not directly associated with the Pilgrims, and furthermore showed no interest in befriending the Wampanoags; they began expanding their developments and squeezing out the locals (tell that same story of injustice to every hipster parent in Williamsburg, Park Slope, etc- with not as much killing, but you get the point). So the “story” of the PILGRIMS and the NATIVE residents helping, sharing and being thankful is not only relevant in the context and setting of that occurrence and date but a legitimate focus for us being thankful in and around those we are close to. Nobody was actually there to know the exact details, but that’s not the point for Thanksgiving. So for a kid’s blog, you’re really reaching pretty far for an excuse to get on a (shaky) soapbox. Anyone can find almost any reason to hate the story behind a holiday (Peta, Agnostics, etc.) but if it’s not congruent with your values, why not just skip it? I’m thankful that, though my forefathers were not always good people, they established a nation where I am not shot for expressing my opinion: many cannot say the same. …IMO

  4. carma says:

    Wow, lighten up!

    . My husband is French and he enjoys this holiday and tells our son it’s a time to relax, be thankful for what you have and share with family!

    The much more complicated truths can be told when the child is able to fully understand.

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