The children of 21st century America are both profoundly blessed and incredibly challenged this Thanksgiving 2006.
They can indulge in turkey and mashed potatoes to their heart’s content, savoring the tastes of the season. They can spend hours watching football on cable—or spend some time in the backyard playing football games of their own.
Yet, there is a danger that children will somehow miss the true meaning of Thanksgiving, amid the bounteous dinners, the parades, and the television sports marathons.
What children need to know this Thanksgiving is that they have a great deal to be thankful for—if they’ll only open up their minds and their hearts.
The children of America live in a land where democracy, rather than dictatorship, rules. They don’t have to worry about their government being overthrown by a bloody coup. They can go to sleep at night, knowing that there are people in high places working day and night to ensure that there is not another terrorist attack on the U.S.
The children of America can be thankful that they are free to go to school and to learn—a privilege that is not open to children in other parts of the world. Those who excel in school can continue onto college, where they can choose the major they wish—rather than having the government choose it for them. They can pursue the career they want—free from government interference.
The children of America can, through hard work and thriftiness, grow up to own their own piece of property—their own slice of the American dream. They can have children of their own—knowing that they have the freedom to form their own families. They can raise those children to love their country, to salute the flag, and to work for the spread of democracy throughout the world.
The children of America have been lavished with material goods—from video games to high-end athletic shoes. They are better-fed, better-housed, and better-clothed than much of the world’s population.
And yet, there’s a danger that the children of America will fail to count their blessings this Thanksgiving. They’ll be reminded of the hurts in their lives—the broken homes, the drug abuse in their neighborhoods, the crime in the inner-cities—and they’ll wonder whether they can truly be grateful. While they may have an abundance of material goods, they may experience a certain poverty of spirit because all is not perfect within their neighborhood cul-de-sacs.
That’s why it’s important for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Thanksgiving. The younger generation needs to recognize the many gifts in their lives—gifts that would have been unthinkable for generations past. Youngsters need to see that—just because their lives are not heaven on earth, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a reason to rejoice.
For they live in a country where anything is possible—where a poor child can grow up to become leader of the free world.
And for that, they should be profoundly thankful.