My two boys know that the holidays are coming based on the ridiculous amount of decorations that go up in our home. Living in LA, sometimes it’s the only way to know that the seasons are changing.
Both my kids attend Montessori school, and they learn about the holidays in their classrooms. But I think it’s important to continue the conversation and education at home, especially when it comes to history and celebrations. Since they are 2 and 3, it’s too early to teach them the true story of the Wampanoag Native Americans of Plymouth, but it’s not too early to refocus their attention on the gratitude and togetherness sentiment of Thanksgiving over the Pilgrim/Indian narrative.
Thanksgiving was officialized by Abraham Lincoln to express gratitude for the Union Army’s victory in Gettysburg. The intent was a day of thankfulness and prayer to God. Though it can be agreed upon that we should be thankful every day, a government-sanctioned holiday gave us that sweet PTO to get together with family near and far.
Teaching my kids about gratitude and thanking Allah for their blessings is one of my biggest goals. In November, dinner conversations start with what we are most grateful for that day.
The Quran says, “Show (thy) gratitude to Allah.” Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all praise. (Quran 31:12). I believe, the ability to be grateful impacts a healthy mind and soul.
On Thanksgiving morning, my boys created placemats in anticipation of the day ahead. While they crafted I talked to them about the term, Bismillah. The beauty of Islam is that Allah is constantly top of mind, from praying 5 times a day to saying Bismillah before we eat. A humbleness comes from that. We are all connected to something bigger than ourselves – a small prayer – reminds us.
As an adult, I recognize that the narratives I accepted about Thanksgiving as a child were one-sided. For more on how we celebrate the holiday now: Rethinking Thanksgiving Celebrations: A Native Perspective On Thanksgiving.
Peace and Salam,