Counting Our Blessings

Easier said than done, right? It’s very easy and even understandable to forget what blessings we have in our lives while in the midst of a global pandemic. I, for one, figure I’m blessed if I’m well and able to write about all of this. There’s no doubt that how we as adults deal with the current chaos affects how our children deal with it. Talk about an awesome responsibility!

As Thanksgiving approached last month, I realized that there were several issues with having GG Sprinkles do an episode on this very American holiday. First, and sadly, while it’s often true that way too many people can’t afford the big holiday dinner that you see in glossy magazine photos, that was undoubtedly even more true this year with thousands out of work and traditional feasts not always an option for many families. Second, an increasing number of people object to celebrating a holiday that glosses over in a big way the relationship between the pilgrims and the Native Americans and ignores the violence against tribes that came soon after. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Thanksgiving appears to be a uniquely American holiday, and GG Sprinkles goes out to wherever YouTube is available.

So I decided to first investigate whether other countries have a similar holiday; turns out there are several. Canada actually calls theirs Thanksgiving. Liberia observes Thanksgiving since their origins are American. One Australian territory also has a day of Thanksgiving. But there are other countries who have a similar day of celebration, including India, Japan, China, and Germany. In Japan, the people basically have a Labor Thanksgiving to say thank you to those who keep things running and keep everyone safe and healthy. The children make cards for first responders and health care workers, among others. I decided to tell my young audience how people around the world celebrate. Then I thought it appropriate to acknowledge that Thanksgiving, no matter when and how one might traditionally celebrate it, would probably be different, with possibly fewer family members gathered together and other differences. And then I focused on the idea of counting our blessings instead of stressing over things we cannot change and mourning the absence of traditions we might be used to on this day.

I demonstrated a couple of simple crafts that kids might find fun and meaningful. I traced my hand to do the classic turkey and added the component of fingerprints on the feathers for mom to keep forever. I also showed them how to make a blessing tree. At the end of the episode, I showed the progress our little oak tree had made since I planted the acorn in our fall episode. I see this as a clear sign to hang in there (not that many acorns grow when you plant them in a pot).

Honestly, it’s hard for us big people to understand why our lives are so different, why we can’t necessarily gather with extended family, why our holidays have turned into life-or-death events where the danger of transmitting the virus frequently trumps holidays as usual. But I know that, for me, it helped a bit to look at the bigger picture and focus on the good things in my life and know that better days are just ahead for all of us. I was hoping it would help my little viewers as well. ❤️

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Author:

I’m a huge believer in two things: the wisdom and potential of our children and the importance of poetry and imagination in their lives and development. My teaching background is at the high school level, but my methods in the classroom ran high in interaction and whimsy, at least as much whimsy as preparation for state testing allowed. I have four young grandchildren, and I nannied a little boy for over four years from infancy, so I like to think I know children pretty well. And I used poetry to teach and inspire no matter what ages I was called to teach. Poetry takes very big ideas and boils them down to nuggets of wisdom more easily understood. And then there’s the rhyme, such a valuable asset to pre-reading and a great hook to pull the little ones into the poetry itself. The rhythm, cadence, and yes, the rhyme, all have value for kids. Even if the full meaning of the words eludes them a little, there is value in what they do process. I have written and published two books of essays and poetry for teachers, but my greater joy came in writing poetry for children. I began a book of children’s poetry the day my first grandchild Samantha was born and fourteen years later I continue to add to it. I entitled it A Duck in the Sky, which comes from a discussion we had with Sam when she was just a toddler. We were talking about the meaning of life and Sam assured us that the meaning of life was, in fact, a duck in the sky. Fair enough, and a very good title. I never published my children’s book, although that will happen. But in the meantime came Covid and quarantine. I wanted to contribute something, to help entertain young children stuck at home, even if for only a few minutes at a time. So GG Sprinkles was born, someone who reads poetry and entertains with props, demonstrations, etc. Our videos began on a GG Sprinkles Facebook page, and shortly after that became a GG Sprinkles YouTube channel. So we now have quite a few videos available and I continue to write poetry. I have learned a great deal about a lot of topics: fairies, zebras, angels, octopuses, birds, superheroes, blanket forts, dragons, space, buried treasure, planets, burping, puppets, trains, unicorns, kites, magic wands, and so much more. It has been a pure joy to do this for the kids. And, of course, I’m learning so much along the way. We intend to keep the videos coming as long as the poetry comes and the kids and parents are interested. We’d be delighted to have you come along with us as we explore new topics poetically and just have some fun. GG Sprinkles welcomes you to any of the videos you’d like to watch and further thoughts here on my blog. Enjoy!

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