Thanksgiving: A Story for All Children to Hear

Yatibaey Evans writes a thought-provoking article on Thanksgiving in the New York Times. Her first paragraph talks about the dark yet truthful side of American history. She is making the case of teaching children not just the sugar-coated events but also the failures and injustices of our past. A fuller picture in Evans' opinion may in fact shine light on lessons children should learn. Evans is currently the president-elect of the National Indian Education Association. She writes the article through the thoughts of her seven-year old son.

Above copied from the New York Times
I was born in the Philippines. Growing up, I have been taught a thing or two regarding European colonists. It is not a happy story.

After finishing college and teaching for two years, I went to Chicago for my graduate studies and that was the time I was introduced to the Thanksgiving holiday. These past few weeks, even in the Karate school of my son, the master was taking time to teach the children that Thanksgiving was a time for working together and helping each other. Obviously, there are quite plenty to be taught about Thanksgiving.

My children, a 9-year old and a 6-year old, learned about this holiday this week from A Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving,

and This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers.

The first movie shows how Charlie Brown tries to serve a Thanksgiving meal to his friends. The meal includes popcorn, toast, jelly beans, and pretzels. A little boy cannot really prepare turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Yet, the story ends with the lesson that Thanksgiving is not all about eating but more about being thankful.

The second movie recreates the journey and struggles of the Plymouth pilgrims of 1620. CommonSenseMedia writes:
Also starring the Peanuts gang, The Mayflower Voyagers doesn't quite capture the whimsy of earlier Charlie Brown specials, but its historical tale should interest older kids: It's a more-or-less factual account of the Mayflower voyage that does not sugarcoat the death and sickness many of the Pilgrims faced when on the ship and when they landed in the "New World." Pilgrims are shown with muskets, and Native Americans are shown with spears.
Both kids enjoyed the movie and I am quite amazed that my son remembered the characters: Samoset, Squanto and Massasoit from the Native American side, and Captain John Smith and Myles Standish from the Pilgrims' side.

How we celebrate Thanksgiving now, and what we want our children to remember on this occasion, in my opinion, are nicely captured in these Charlie Brown's stories. It is a day to be thankful. A Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers of this blog.