Putting the “Giving” back into “Thanksgiving”- Tips to help parents plant the philanthropy seed

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured

Published on November 14, 2018 with No Comments

On Thanksgiving, many Americans are preoccupied with turkeys, parades, football games, and even Black Friday sales.

It seems that over time, this holiday has become more about getting things – whether that’s food, entertainment, or bargains – than about giving thanks for what we already have. (And really, that’s just a reflection of our society’s general gimme-gimme-gimme attitude.)

If you’re like most parents, you don’t want your children to grow up focused solely on themselves, concerned only with the latest video game or with how they can get their way. You want them to feel genuine gratitude for the blessings they have and to demonstrate thought and concern for others.

According to Todd Patkin, there’s no better time than the Thanksgiving holiday to help your children become less me-focused and more thoughtful.

“In general, I don’t believe that kids act selfishly because they genuinely don’t care about others – it’s more that they aren’t really sure how to help others and give back, because they aren’t being taught,” asserts Patkin, author of “Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and – Finally – Let the Sunshine In.”

“It’s crucial for adults – especially those of us who are parents – to start early when it comes to raising our kids with a passion for philanthropy, and Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity.”

“I’m convinced that the ‘Me Generation’ isn’t as egocentric at heart as it’s made out to be,” he said. “However, kids do need to be guided in a positive direction, and often, that starts in the home. Parents are the greatest influencers when it comes to developing their kids’ habits and behaviors – including cultivating a desire to give and to help others. If they see you giving back as a part of your regular life, they’ll learn that behavior and carry it with them into adulthood.”

Ready to help your child take the first steps from selfishness to selflessness? 

1. Explain philanthropy to your children.

2. Make it a part of everyday life.

3. Reinforce the value of a random act of kindness. 

4. Show them by doing.

5. Help your focus on how good it feels to give back. 

“Ultimately, raising children who understand the value of giving back – and whose lives reflect that knowledge – is one of the most philanthropically minded things parents can do, and this holiday provides the perfect opportunity,” Patkin concludes.

“Don’t forget that Thanksgiving isn’t just about ‘thanking’ – it’s about giving as well. After all, the original celebrants gave their food and friendship to one another, and helping others is an American legacy I’d like to see continue. And from a parental point of view, you’ll be amazed at how rewarding it is to raise philanthropists, and how much stronger giving back makes your relationship with your kids.”


Meaning of Thanksgiving – The Real Celebration


For many of us, the meaning of Thanksgiving usually includes feasting, four-day weekends, football games, floats, family reunions, or a forerunner to Christmas festivities. The “first Thanksgiving,” however, was neither a feast nor a holiday, but a simple gathering. Following the Mayflower’sarrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered the lost of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91 Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and yielded a bountiful harvest in 1621. In celebration, a traditional English harvest festival, lasting three days brought the Pilgrims and natives to unite in a “thanksgiving” observance.

This “thanksgiving” meal would not be celebrated again until June of 1676. On June 29 the community of Charlestown, Massachusetts proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for their good fortune. Ironically, this celebration excluded the Indians, as the colonists’ recognized their recent victory over the “heathen natives.” One hundred years later, in October of 1777, all 13 colonies participated in a one-time “thanksgiving” celebration which commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. It would take a span of over 150 more years to establish Thanksgiving as we celebrate it — George Washington proclaimed it a National holiday in 1789, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941.

Expressions of Gratitude
The meaning of Thanksgiving has undergone numerous transitions — an expression of gratitude for survival, a council’s recognition of its flourishing community, submission of the local natives, the defeat over the British, resulting in a collection of our nation’s traditions and values. Over the centuries, families added their customs to the Thanksgiving celebration, preserving that which they held most precious.

To gather in unity –It is refreshing and invigorating when people come together, in celebration of a common purpose. It is a reconciliation of differences as well as a time of healing. In sharing our victories as well as our struggles, we find strength and hope.

To teach the young –In stories retold, each generation brings purpose and significance to the richness of their heritage. Faded pictures, sentimental knick-knacks, even the prayer of Thanksgivingbefore the meal all form a Thanksgiving family legacy.

To prepare the heart –In gratitude, we humbly reflect upon all the gifts (family, friends, health) that saturate our lives. By “giving-thanks” we choose to extend ourselves and give to others less fortunate. Out of the abundance of our hearts, we are able to offer our resources to help others.


Thanksgiving History – The Thanksgiving Proclamation


The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

- Abraham Lincoln

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