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The Thanksgiving holiday is more than turkey and football. It can become a part of family tradition to consider the good things from the past year. Children are never too young to begin cultivating gratitude as part of daily life and there is no better time to start than right now.

Make it tangible

The whole family can count their blessings and celebrate them as part of the Thanksgiving meal. Turkey on the Table is part decoration and part remembrance that engages children in considering what they are thankful for.

It was created by two moms who wanted to teach their children the importance of daily gratitude.

The knit turkey comes with double-sided, customizable feathers and a marker. As Thanksgiving Day approaches, children (and parents) write a blessing on a tail feather each day and make gratitude part of the holiday. Part of the Thanksgiving celebration can include reading the expressions of gratitude. A bonus for parents: save the tail feathers from year to year and remember what touched your child’s heart. The turkey also comes with a book that explains how to remember blessings in this way and it helps children understand the company’s partnership with Feeding America. Each turkey purchase provides 10 meals for people in need. To learn more, visit https://turkeyonthetable.com.

Read all about it

Make the holiday a part of bedtime reading all month long. Fiction Addiction owner Jill Hendrix shared her suggestions for books that help children learn about gratitude and why we pause to celebrate it each year.

“Otis Gives Thanks” by Loren Long, board book.

Otis the tractor, the beloved storybook character, lists and thanks everyone and everything he is grateful for.

“Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving” by Kimberly & James Dean, lift-the-flap paperback.

Pete the Cat learns about the pilgrims by playing one in his school play and then asks his family what they are thankful for.

“Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’” by Eileen Spinelli, paperback.

After a series of mishaps, the Tappletons have no Thanksgiving dinner, but Grandmother Tappleton knows that Thanksgiving is not about the food but about being thankful for family.

“What Was the First Thanksgiving?” by Joan Holub, paperback.

This book covers not only the Pilgrims and why we celebrate Thanksgiving, but how Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Serve others together

How young is too young to volunteer? That depends on the organization, but many are happy to have families serve together. VolunteerMatch.org can connect families to organizations by geographic area and area of interest and it allows parents to filter by opportunities that welcome children. The site is the largest volunteer engagement network online, with more than 114,000 active nonprofits, 150 network partners and 13 million visitors annually.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

While most volunteer opportunities with The Salvation Army are for ages 16 and older, families can adopt a family in need at the holidays or sign up to be bell ringers. For more information, visit www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/greenvillesc/contribute/contribute/volunteer-opportunities (Greenville County) or call volunteer coordinator Debra Wright at 864-576-6670 (Spartanburg County). Learn more about the bell ringer opportunities in Greenville County at https://timecounts.org/the-salvation-army/events/3542.

Meals on Wheels of Greenville County https://mealsonwheelsgreenville.org) and Mobile Meals in Spartanburg (www.mobile-meals.org/volunteers.php) give families a chance to deliver meals and share a smile.

Write it down

A handwritten – or drawn, for those too young to write – thank you note is a way for children to reflect on a gift they received or a kindness extended to them. It reminds children to give thanks and gives them the opportunity to be creative in how they express it. Pull out the crayons, markers and colored paper and make it a fun family activity. Don’t limit thank you notes to gifts – brighten someone’s day with a reminder that they make a difference.

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