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The Grateful Turkey

There’s a reason why Thanksgiving comes before Christmas.

Before we’re frantically buying gifts, decorations, and bags of powdered sugar and sprinkles, we’re supposed to slow down and take an honest inventory of all we’re grateful for, all that we have. Done in the right spirit, this season of gratitude can often curb my Christmas holiday ambitions. Do I need more garland, ornaments, wrapping paper, or place settings? Does my family really need more stocking stuffers, cookies, or pajamas? The answer is usually no. My family, gratefully, does not stand in need of much. And the overbuying at Christmas time is not only unnecessary, but often extremely distracting from the real Spirit of Christmas.

These days I’m trying harder to side-step the holiday stuff hoopla, but it’s not so easy for my daughter Abby. It’s not her fault. She has a limited understanding of money and cost, and she doesn’t recognize the marketing ploys aimed at kids. When she looked through a glossy toy ad last weekend, all she saw were exciting possibilities–she didn’t care that she already owns about thirty Barbie dolls (of which I have honestly only purchased two), or that the eighty dollar Disney Rapunzel tower will break as soon as Cameron falls on it. She didn’t care that she already has a doll house; a beautifully hand-crafted, huge, wooden house with lights that Santa brought two years ago. She only realized that it doesn’t have a garage or exercise room like the cheap one in the ad. Looking through a toy catalog (or a Pottery Barn catalog) makes it hard to appreciate what we have–we only see what we don’t have.

So without trying too hard to be a fun-sucker, I had a talk with her a few days ago about Christmas. I told her the usual stuff: Santa only brings each person in our family one gift. And instead of thinking about ourselves, let’s think about what we can give others. We cleaned out her toy box and book shelves for items that were good enough to donate, and once she understood that other children could use the toys, books, and games she didn’t need anymore, she was more eager to put things in the D.I. pile. She counted her Barbie dolls and realized that she doesn’t need to ask Santa for another one–ever. She organized her doll house and told me all it really needed was a Barbie exercise bike and that she could pretend it had a garage.

I also made a “Grateful Turkey” and taped it on the fridge. Each day until Thanksgiving, I told Abby we’d each write something we’re grateful for on the turkey’s feathers. Hopefully it will help all of us to remember our blessings. And if we also  recognize that our material wants are more than accounted for, maybe Christmas time this year will be more than just a big-to-get-list. She was pretty excited about that. She also suggested that when our Christmas tree is up, we can cut out paper hearts and write who we love on them and then hang them as ornaments.

Well, I’d say that talk went well. Maybe the “Grateful Turkey” can help me whittle down my Christmas wants too.

~Ashley Curtis
You can find more of Ashley on her blog: Hey Nonny

*photo credit: Nonny and KiKi Creates

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