Thanksgiving in the Year of COVID-19

Even in a year that’s been full of challenges, there is plenty to be thankful for. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, we asked Sandra Graham, the Director of Training at Kiddie Academy® Educational Child Care, to share her thoughts on how to find and celebrate the good things in our lives. Here’s what she had to say:

Like so many other events throughout 2020, this holiday season may be filled with tough choices and changes for families.

The good news is that the holidays are also a time when gratitude is at the forefront. Gratitude has been shown to help kids and adults practice resilience through tough times by focusing on the positive emotions that come with spending quality time with family and friends.

Simply put, if we focus on the good things we have in our life, we will discover so much to be grateful for this year. Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect and think of ways to relieve the stress in today’s world and infuse gratitude by following your family traditions. If we practice gratitude throughout the holiday, Thanksgiving will be a meaningful and joyful time for you and your families.

Most people would agree that a holiday centered around food and family is a great way to spend the day. There is also the bonding that happens when we cook together. The act of preparing food with our family is great for our wellbeing and it teaches children to be thankful and appreciative. It also provides time to reconnect with our families and to focus on what is important in our lives. We see Thanksgiving as kick-starting the holiday season and it’s the first in a series of positive events to come.

We know there is always something to be grateful for, but children often forget all the things they already have that make them happy. Luckily, this period of staying at home provides plenty of time to help develop your child’s attitude of gratitude.

Examples of what you and your family can do to keep the Thanksgiving traditions going this year:

      1. Let your children help with preparing the meal and setting the table.
      2. Ask everyone at the meal to share what they are grateful for about 2020.
      3. Ask kids what makes them smile.
      4. Have everyone list many things that they feel thankful for and put them in a jar. Then go around the table picking them out and taking turns reading them. Use crayons and markers to make them more colorful and fun.
      5. With this year’s distancing and restricted visiting, have everyone write a thank you letter to people who couldn’t be there this year. Have stamps ready and go for a walk to the mailbox after dinner so you know they’ve been sent.
      6. If you can, safely support a local group that helps people who are homeless or gather food to take to a local food bank. Help someone in your community you know is struggling. That is the best way to give thanks.

    Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to start practicing the attitude for gratitude year-round.

    Ways to get your children started on practicing gratitude:

    1. Start a gratitude notebook – Have your child write a note or draw a picture of something they’re thankful for each day. Ask your child to be specific and the more they pay attention to details, the more they’ll start to notice the positive things in their life.
    2. Make a gratitude chain – This fun activity gets the whole family involved. Set up an area with precut construction paper strips, markers, and tape in your home. Ask family members to pause every time they walk by to jot down something they’re grateful for and then fasten it as a link on the chain.
    3. Write or draw Thanksgiving cards – If your child is sad about not getting to see a family member or friend this holiday season, channeling it into writing or art can be soothing for them and a sweet surprise for the recipient.
    4. Practice Mindfulness – Live in the moment and be present in your surroundings. Stop, breathe and be grateful for everything in your world. (NOTE: You can find many examples of #MindfulMinutes you can practice with your kids on our Kiddie Academy Facebook page)
    5. Make “thanks” calls – Sit down with your child and make a list of people who’ve done something nice for them lately. Then set aside time on Thanksgiving for your child to call and say thank you.
    6. Send virtual care packages – Social distancing and self-quarantining means you can’t get together to hug but your child can send the next best thing: a bunch of photos and a funny video that will make someone smile.
    7. Decorate the front yard with thank you signs – From essential workers and healthcare heroes to teachers and neighbors – a lot of people deserve a special thank you. Get your child involved in drawing or painting signs to decorate your yard this Thanksgiving season.
    8. Take gratitude walks – While you walk, look for the simple pleasures in the day, such as the clouds in the sky or the birds singing and express appreciation for them. Use this time to ask your kids what they are grateful for.
    9. Try a twist on kindness rocks – Have your child paint rocks with images and messages that inspire gratitude. On Thanksgiving Day, take a walk to work off that turkey and set the rocks in special places to surprise others on their walk.
    10. Find a way to give back – Talk to your child about the causes that matter to them, and the people or things in the community that they’d like to help. Reach out to organizations to see how you can give back, whether that’s donating or volunteering in a way that’s safe during COVID-19.

Yes, this pandemic holiday season may have its challenges but with some resilience and a grateful attitude, your family can still put the “thanks” in Thanksgiving. You maybe even create a new gratitude habit that will help your child grow up seeing the sunny side of life.

Thanks for the great ideas, Sandra!


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