Values and Traditions - Pass Them On

"But don't you think that is a lot of food..."
This is the statement that met me when I went through the menu for our Thanksgiving Day meal. How can parents that are tying to teach their children not to be selfish and greedy just ignore a comment such as this? This is the predicament that my husband and I found ourselves in last night as we prepared for bed.

Indeed, it IS a lot of food. It always is a lot of food. That seems to be what Thanksgiving is all about. We questioned whether or not we are sending the right message to our children. When we teach them all throughout the year that they should not be greedy and selfish and then we sit down to a big - fantastic - more than we could ever eat meal. My husband challenged my thinking - perhaps we should not do all the dishes that we normally do for Thanksgiving. "Perhaps", he went on to suggest, "we should do something totally different for Thanksgiving."

(My heart beat skipped a few times ) "Do something different?" my heart shouted. You just CAN"T do something different for Thanksgiving! It is against the rules or something..."

My dear faithful husband could see that this suggestion was almost more than I could bear. He still continued on and I tried my best to be the supporter and upholder of his thoughts and ideas - but do something different for Thanksgiving? I was almost certain that was not American or something. You just can't do something different for Thanksgiving!

It was at the site of my shocked and troubled brow that he presented me with the thought that we just could not let the children's thoughts and this matter lie. If our having a huge meal for Thanksgiving was sending the wrong message we would need to make sure that we corrected that and conveyed consistency in our thinking. He encouraged me that I needed to look at this as positive and realize that perhaps the values that we are trying to teach our children maybe are sinking in...

Now this reasoning I could not go against. He was right. I needed to be willing to put aside my traditional thoughts - if it meant that we would be teaching our children a valued lesson and enforcing and upholding the moral values that we hold dear. It was agreed upon, as we lay in bed, covers close, lights out, alarm set for the busy actions of the next day - We would have a family meeting in the morning and have the kids explain just what they meant by "too much food..." I rolled over after kissing my dear goodnight with one thought looming above my head. "But you just can not do something different for Thanksgiving....."

This morning our family meeting was called. Children were assembled among us - and Dad began, "Mom and I thought about what you said about the Thanksgiving dinner and we thought it would be a good idea to see what we could eliminate from our dinner - being there will be so much food and we just can not possibly consume all of it...." The children were seated around - eyes wide with wonder - "Wow! - Mom and Dad got it! "

Dad continued..."Tell us how you feel about Thanksgiving..."

It was the oldest who began..."It just does not seem right, Dad, that we will have so much food for our dinner and there are people all around who do not have enough food to eat. It just does not seem right..." The other children nodded their heads in agreement and put in their two cents worth right along with their sister.

Dad nodded his head in agreement, "Mom and I agree... so Mom is going to go through the list again and we will see what we can eliminate this year from our dinner so that we will not have so much ..." With that he nodded to me and I had the floor.

List in hand, mind rolling over and over the question "But you can not do something different for Thanksgiving dinner?!!" I stepped out of my comfort zone and began to go down the list:

Turkey - all agreed we had to have turkey!

Ham - this was not so great - it was decided that since the Jews do not eat ham we do not need one either. (This was OK with me - because we have never done ham before and just had thought we would try it this year.. )

Mashed Potatoes - it was agreed you could not have Thanksgiving dinner with out these staples. I left the spuds on my list.

Green Bean Casserole - now this did have one no - but only one - (from the young one that HATES this dish.)

Cranberries - there was a chorus of applause and agreement - we had to keep these.

The list went on and on - much the same way. We finally came to the end of the list with everything but the ham still holding it's own. Again, the kids said that they just felt that it was not right for us to have all this food when others have so little or none at all. It was then suggested by one of them that perhaps we could find a homeless person and invite them to dinner with us. They also went through a list of people that they thought would not have anywhere to go for the special day. Yet, as the list was made, it was found that everyone we know has plans for the holiday. Then the spokesman for the kids presented yet another thought, "Well Dad, we could keep the dishes that we are used to for our dinner but make smaller portions of them. Then there won't be so much food. It just does not seem right that there is so much food..." Her cheering squad stood behind her in agreement and let us know that they felt that way too.


So - I finished my Thanksgiving dinner shopping this afternoon - with all the usual purchases.
Just with not quite as much of what I usually buy for the meal.

My husband and I have agreed to keep our eyes open for any homeless people - perhaps we will have a guest?

I smile as I finish writing this tonight - traditions are wonderful; but it is even nicer to know that our values are being passed down too. Next year - we will make plans to have Thanksgiving include someone - who needs just a little more loving and family for the holiday. For this year, we will have smaller dishes filled with the recipes that we love for the holiday meal - and we will be thankful - for all the blessing God gives us each day.

"Perhaps", it was suggested, "when the dishes are finished - we can go and visit the nursing home and visit Alice..." I am thinking that a visit with a sick neighbor will be a wonderful way for us to finish up our day.

Blessings - and Goodnight,


Jessica said...

Great post!! And what a neat idea of taking some to a nursing home!! I bet most of those people don't have "home cooked" Thanksgiving meals. We might have to try that as well. (My Grandma is in a nursing home near here!) We will definitely have to take her a plate... and maybe an extra one for another elderly guest!! :)

Susan said...

Looks like you and your dh are doing a great job of passing on your values as well as your traditions!

Mimi said...

sounds like you have a wonderful dinner planned for your Thanksgiving... and you have the children thinking of sharing what they have... wonderful job you are doing with teaching the kids...


I am so proud of your children. We have desided in our family to make smaller portions also. Our children are all grown and Grandchildren are from 22 years down. There are 39 of us. But we always make so much and even after eating left over for dinner that night we still have had leftovers. So, we are not making such large portions this year either. I love Thanksgiving and It was the one day of the year growing up that we had more than enough food. So it has always been our way of doing it also. We have always invited all who wanted to come. Some at our church do not have families close by so sometimes some of them came. Also we have had extended family members but still too much.

I came by to wish you and your family and VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND to tell you what a blessing you have been to me. connie from Texas

Elise said...

Oh, so beautiful, Jane! I am teary as I read this.

Perhaps you could plate the leftovers in a lovely way and find some neighbors who are alone? I will be mindful of this as we grocery shop today... although we are hosting six other people. Perhaps next year, when we are alone for Thanksgiving, we will pare it down as you suggest.

Lovely. Your children are lovely, and a reflection of Christ.