Every family has a special dish that brings the warmth and security of homemade comfort, like warm chicken soup, which feeds your soul as much as it feeds your belly. The aroma of the dish, often cooking for hours, can transport you to a time when life was consumed by skinned knees and hurt feelings, and all could be cured by simply eating your mother’s food and experiencing her love. Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to take that home-made love in a bowl, and share it with your family.
Growing up, Thanksgiving was more than just a meal, it was a week-long preparation that included meal planning, recipe tasting, and crafting. The week culminated in a cooking marathon where my mother, sister, and I poured all of our love into the comfort foods that had become our Thanksgiving staples. Over the years we fine-tuned our favorite recipes and created traditions that are still a very special part of our family’s Thanksgiving celebration.
Now that I am a mother of three, I want to share that same experience with my children and create our own special holiday traditions. I look forward to spending time in the kitchen with my kids and expressing my love through food by including them in creating our family’s Thanksgiving Feast. Creating a meal as a family gives you the opportunity to bond with your children and create life-long traditions that can be shared with generations to come. Whether this is your first Thanksgiving or your fortieth, including your children in the process will surely become your favorite part of this yearly holiday.
How to include your children in the experience:
- Let children help while choosing the menu and try to include some of their favorite foods such as their favorite cookie for dessert or a familiar veggie as a side dish.
- Have children help create a grocery list and go on a scavenger hunt at the grocery store. Younger children can create lists using pictures.
- Let your children help in the kitchen. Parents are often surprised how much children can help while cooking and children truly enjoy getting their hands dirty. Don’t worry— messes can be cleaned up later.
- Make cleaning fun for kids by making it a game. Kids can sweep up by “swabbing the deck” or playing “who can pick up the fastest”
- Set a “kid friendly” table that includes crafts made by your children. Crafts can be made in advance and can help build excitement about the upcoming holiday.
- Have children help set the table. Kids can fold napkins, add ice to water glasses and help with place settings.
- Let children help serve the dishes that they created and watch as they beam in pride.
- Most importantly, keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving: let older children write what they are thankful for; younger children can create drawings that can be displayed.
Written by: Janice de Armas
Preschool Director: ICS Coral Gables