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A kid's view of Thanksgiving

How do you explain the holiday of feasting and gratitude to a 4-year-old who's always grateful?

Jen Weigel

November 25, 2010

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"Mommy, what is Thanksgiving?"

My 4-year-old was coloring his Thanksgiving-themed homework -- which involved drawing his favorite foods on a plate.

"It's a day when we get together with friends and family and celebrate all we are thankful for," I said, trying to make something up on the fly.

"Thankful?" he asked. "What is 'thankful'?"

"The things that we are happy about -- or glad to share," I said.

"Like my trucks?" he asked. "I let Emmett play with my ambulance, remember?"

"Sort of like that," I said.

"And my Binkers?" he said, holding up a rag that once resembled a blanket. (It's now nicknamed "Stinkers".)

"Yes, it's important to be grateful for everything that makes you feel good," I said, watching him place "Stinkers" under his nose and inhale like he was taking a drag of a cigarette.

"And Mommy and Daddy," he mumbled through his blanket.

"Exactly," I said.

"But how is this different from every day?" he asked.

My little man knows about grateful. Just the other day we were sitting in hideous traffic and he said, "I just love sitting in the car with you, Mommy." So it only made sense that he would question the need to have a big dinner based on the theme of what he already does on a regular basis.

"Sometimes people need to be reminded," I said.

He grabbed his marker to finish his homework.

"Can we have noodles?" he asked, drawing his dinner of choice on the paper.

"We're going to have turkey, honey," I said.

"Interesting," he said.

Interesting?

"Is that the rule?" he asked.

"Sort of," I said. "That's what Daddy will be making."

He took his marker and drew several dots on top of his noodles to represent the parmesan cheese.

"OK," he sighed, still dotting the page. "But I won't be as Thanksgiving as I would if we were eating noodles. Just so you know."

"Gotcha," I said.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with memories and gratitude. (With or without the noodles.)

jweigel@tribune.com