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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Preschool Thanksgiving Feast

Teaching preschoolers about Thanksgiving - the good and the bad - is difficult. First of all, they're between three and five years of age; how much detail does one want to go into? I mean, I've worked in church-run preschools where they got into way too much detail about the Crucifixion for my comfort (I think it's sufficient to say, "bad men killed Jesus" to kids that young). Same goes here.

Lizzy in her "Indian Costume"
So all she learned (or at least all she remembers now, several hours later), really, were "Pilgwim boys weah black hats and Pilgwim guhls weah white ones like hoods," and, "Indians have weally cool clothes," and that, "Thanksgiving is to thank Indian people foh doing nice things like taking Pilgwims out to lunch". ("Out to lunch?" I asked, skeptically, and she said, "Yes, the Indians feeded the Pilgwims". All righty then).

So we haven't gotten into any of the bad, even in preschool terms like, "later, the Pilgrims were mean to the Indians," yet. The teachers said they tried to introduce the term Native American, but since fully a third of the kids in Lizzy's class are Indians-from-India, these little kids just could not wrap their heads around the concept of "Columbus thought it was India but he was wrong".

So, for all intents and purposes, it was just a harvest-time feast, which is okay too, at this age. And because of the large concentration of Indians-from-India in her school, there were a few non-standard items at the feast, which was nice too (we're used to this; I have a cousin from Japan who always brings sushi to family celebrations). And Lizzy ate like a pig - she had turkey and mashed potatoes and all the usual fixings, plus pasta with a (mild) Indian sauce and gulab jamun (those little donut holes soaked in cardamom syrup. Yum).

Let me tell you - a preschool room filled with 24 preschoolers, at least that many adults, assorted siblings, and a Thanksgiving Feast... it's a chaotic mess... but it's also a reason for giving thanks.