Thanksgiving at Preschool: A Lesson About Holiday Joy
Last week, my son’s preschool hosted a family Thanksgiving lunch. Parents were invited to bring a Thanksgiving side dish and join the class for the meal while the child care center provided the turkey. While I love the idea of these events, they always seem to come with a little bit of added stress for me. I was super busy on Thursday, and it wasn’t the best time for me to head out of the office for an hour. On top of it, it was 10:00 p.m. the night before when I realized that the mini corn muffins I had signed up to bring may not pass the allergy test. I didn’t have the ingredients to make my own substitute, so I found myself slicing hamburger rolls into quarters as a back-up plan. It was starting to feel like more of a distraction than anything else. Until I got there. And then, in an instant, when my son smiled so wide and hugged my arm as I sat next to him while they finished reading a pre-lunch story, I knew THIS would be my most important Thanksgiving this year.
Together, my son and I walked through the family-style buffet filling his plate. He was proud to help himself to the sliced hamburger rolls AND the corn muffins (which did pass the test) because they were OUR contribution. He enthusiastically encouraged his friend John to try the squash because it was orange, John’s favorite color. And he grinned when he ate the pumpkin bread that he proudly told me John and his mommy made. I helped another of one his friends whose parents couldn’t be there. She beamed like the sun as she filled her plate with the corn she told me her mommy brought.
The whole Thanksgiving at preschool experience filled my heart with the kind of joy the holidays should be about. Kids, excited and proud of their contributions. Thrilled to share this meal with each other. Exuberant enthusiasm for sharing it all with their moms and dads. And, unlike in the toddler years, I got a happy hug without a side of tears when I left.
Today I’ll start preparing for a second Thanksgiving – with 18 family members. I can only hope it will be half as joyful as my preschool Thanksgiving experience last week.