For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today, I was thinking about handprint turkeys. Seriously, I was. Oh, come on, if you didn’t make them as a child, I’m sure you know someone who did. Remember how the pencil felt tracing around your hand, or maybe, your teacher had you stamp your fist in brown paint to make the body. Each finger became a feather on the turkey’s back. You may have been fancy and decorated each one a different color—orange, brown, red, yellow.
If the teacher got really creative, she would ask you to think of things you were grateful for and write them on each feather or on the body. If you asked those turkeys, they would tell you that regardless of the era, children are grateful for the same things: families, friends, their pets, God, playing outside, candy, grannies and papaws, their blankies, toys, and snow days.
As a teacher and as a parent, Thanksgiving quickly became my favorite time of year. There was no pressure with Thanksgiving because there was nothing commercial about it—no candy to purchase, no gifts to make, no materialistic hoopla brainwashing children, etc. It is a holiday that truly captures what it says it does: giving thanks.
Thanksgiving is about simplicity, kind of like those handprint turkeys. It’s about the spirit of the season, a season about giving of one’s self, caring for others, and being thankful for what you have. It’s about reminding ourselves of what and who is really important in our lives—those 4-5 words small enough to fit on the fingerprint feathers but symbolic enough to make Mom cry as she hung it on the fridge.
I chose this quote today because it represents some of those very simple items in our lives for which we can give thanks. They are small words, “rest,” “shelter,” “health,” “love,” but full of meaning and value. They are those very simple but significant things that build the foundation of our lives.
So let us not forget what those simple handprints taught us—those short phrases that could fit on the traced fingers of a child are things worth being thankful for, not just during the Thanksgiving season but all year round.