I have a favorite story that I read to my class every November. It’s a funny story by “The Adventures of Captain Underpants” author Dav Pilkey called “ ’Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving,” about a class that goes on a field trip to Farmer McNugget’s farm. The children soon discover that the turkeys they befriended that day were to be “prepared” for Thanksgiving dinner the following morning. Mortified, they devise a brilliant plan and waddle home from the trip with “hot turkey stuffing.” The thankful fugitives are stuffed under their shirts, and the next day they all enjoy meals of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The children in kindergarten always cheer at this happy ending, and it’s a great springboard to our discussions about Thanksgiving. After several attempts at getting to the root of the matter, here is what the children came up with today. Thanksgiving is all about one thing.
• “Thanksgiving is all about turkeys.”
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• “Yeah, my family celebrates turkeys!”
“Yeah, Thanksgiving is all about turkeys and eating stuff!”
At this point I felt it necessary to share the story of the first Thanksgiving, and this caused some lights to go on in the eyes of most of the children. They remembered the story, and wanted to share — all at once.
“The Pilmers came from somewhere, not around here, and came here on a boat called The Maple.”
• Christian: “Yeah, it was an ocean liner.”
• Quinn: “I sink it was 10,000 feet long!”
We discussed the feast that the Pilgrims planned for their American Indian friends, and the conversation came full circle — all the way back to turkeys.
“Did I know any of those kids that were there eating turkey? You know, at the feast? Oh, probably not. I think it happened around when I was born.”
“If you want a turkey, first you shoot the turkey, then you pull all da fedders out and then you cook it at 8 degrees for 10 minutes.”
“You have to catch it, shoot it, rip its feathers off and cook it.”
“You know Ms. Marsh, Thanksgiving is not very much fun for the turkey, is it?” “No Julia, it most certainly isn’t.”
However, Thanksgiving is always a time of year that makes reminds me about what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for friends who wrap their arms around me when times are tough. I’m thankful for family members who remind my heart about what is truly important in life. I’m thankful for each moment I have with my children and my friends, for I know that life is fleeting.
I’m also thankful for these precious souls who I am entrusted with each year. They make me laugh, they give me hope for the future, and they remind me that there is no more important job in the world than the one I enjoy each and every day.
You bet I’m thankful. Now pass me some of that turkey.