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Make Thanksgiving meaningful

November 1, 2016
Basia Drilling , MOV Parent

What do you think of when you hear the word Thanksgiving? Many of us often associate this holiday with Black Friday shopping. The commercialization of Thanksgiving has grown over the years and with many Black Friday sales now starting on Thanksgiving evening, valuable time spent with family and friends is often cut short.

With all the money-saving door busters, it is easy to lose sight of what the holiday is really about. Challenge yourself and your family to make this Thanksgiving a more meaningful and healthy holiday.

Celebrate by Cooking with Children

Children love contributing to meals by prepping and cooking alongside adults. Having children help in the kitchen is a great way to celebrate the holiday. Spend time together making this easy and healthy recipe that can be served alongside your turkey centerpiece. The sweet and slightly salty combination is a real crowd-pleaser. Plus, you can take pride knowing there's a delicious veggie dish to compete with other Thanksgiving dishes that may not be as healthy. This is a great activity for younger children who are developing their fine motor skills.

Honey-Roasted Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.)

2 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash and peel the squash using a vegetable peeler, then cut it in half lengthwise.

Have children scoop out the seeds.

Cut squash into cubes and place in a bowl.

Have children drizzle the cubes with olive oil and honey, and sprinkle with salt then allow them to mix it all up with their hands.

Spread squash cubes evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the pieces.

Celebrate with Crafts

Make the holiday extra special by having children create decorations to display around the home. Using brown construction paper, trace and cut out turkey body shapes. Everyone can decorate their own using cut out feather shapes on red, yellow, and orange paper. Have everyone making a turkey write one thing they are thankful for on each of their feathers. Attach the feathers to the turkey bodies and hang the final products where they can be seen and appreciated. This simple craft is an inexpensive way to decorate your home and allows you the opportunity to share meaningful moments with your family.

Celebrate with Physical Activity

Football is a large part of many Thanksgiving celebrations. During the holiday weekend, there are tons of nail-biting football games on television. Limit the time your family spends in front of a screen watching football and play your own touch football game as a family. Build up excitement by creating a tournament bracket and a rotating trophy. Children will love bonding with their relatives while you promote a healthy lifestyle. This is also a great way for adults to burn off some of those Thanksgiving dinner calories! Remember, children need to engage in physical activity for a minimum of 60 minutes every day so make physical activity extra fun during the extra special day.

Celebrate by Giving Back

Many of us use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to celebrate our blessings and express our gratitude. During the holiday, teach your family about the importance of giving back. Spending a few hours as a family volunteering at a local soup kitchen or food packaging center is a great way to bond while helping others to enjoy the holiday. Donate to a charity or offer a seat at your table to a neighbor or friend who may not have family nearby. Children mimic the behaviors of the adults in their lives, so teach your children the importance of service and inspire them to give back.

Even though the Thanksgiving focus has shifted to sales on material items, the holiday should still be a time to celebrate with friends and family and reflect on all that we are grateful for. By spending time with your family, you can teach the meaning of the holiday in fun, creative and significant ways. Simple activities create lasting memories that can later become traditions for your children. This year, have a Healthy Celebration as you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Basia Drilling is a Children's Hunger Alliance Dietetic Intern from The Ohio State University.



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