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CLASS NOTES – Understanding the Meaning of Thanksgiving

People often inquire about my ability to work with middle school children citing their often unpredictable, narcissistic and unruly behavior. I admit that at times, it is a challenge to work with kids metamorphosing into young adults. In seconds they can transform from a playful puppy into a snotty debutante. But, there is also wonder and enlightenment and lots of love in their pubescent hearts.

Middle school kids still love to have stories read to them, crave knowledge about the world they are about to enter, appreciate sophisticated humor, and understand more than most of us give them credit for. They will go to great lengths to make the ones they love happy and take great pleasure in doing so.

They are also very thankful. It may not seem so when they are begging for money or complaining about the injustices they must endure, but they are. I recently sat down with some middle school children and asked them to reflect on their good fortune. Their answers touched my heart and reminded me why I love teaching children. Their thoughtful words will inspire even the hardest of critics.

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Oscar is thankful for kindness. “I am thankful for being kind to others because if you have the ability to be kind, you can make new friends.”

Patricia is thankful for hope. “When everyone thought my grandma was dying, I had hope that she would live, and she did!”

Brian is thankful for his mom. “She is a single mom and keeps me confident about myself.”

Breana is also thankful for her mom. “She’s there for me when I’m hurt or when I don’t know what’s happening to my body and when I’m sick.”

Miles is thankful, “for electricity that powers everything.”

Dylan is thankful for his brother. “Without him, I would not have anyone to grow up with and I would be lonely.”

Katy is thankful for her life. “When I was born I wasn’t breathing and I was blue.”

Why not dish out some appreciative reflections along with the stuffing this holiday season. One way is to join the family together and create a thankful paper chain. It’s super easy. Brainstorm all the luxuries of life, blessings and love enjoyed. Then, jot those thoughts down on strips of paper. Have the kids color and glitter the papers and then loop the strips together. Once finished hang your thankful chain over the front door, or on the Christmas tree for a decorative reminder of blessings.

Before sitting down for dinner, place an inspiration quote at each place setting, putting everyone in an appreciative mood.

Here are a few to get you going.

“O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” William Shakespeare.

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” Aesop.

“If you count all your assets, you always show a profit.” Robert Quillen.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” W.T. Purkiser

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