Having The Kids Help With Thanksgiving Dinner

I remember, quite vividly, the first Thanksgiving Day dinner I ever made by myself. If there was a word worse than “awful,” that word would describe the gruesome concoction I whipped up that holiday. It indubitably wasn’t my fault, though; no one had ever taught me how to cook. My mother was queen of fast food, and my grandmother’s culinary repertoire consisted of hamburger meat, fried chicken and spaghetti — exclusively. I was determined never to make the same mistake with my own kids.

Thus, a mandate was born.

After a few years (and fewer botched meals), I decreed that my girls had to keep me company in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day so that I could educate them in all things delicious and delectable. Little did I know that my infinitesimal directive would result in more than just cooking lessons.

By now, all three of my teenage daughters are learning how to make a stunning (yes, I eventually mastered the art of the turkey) traditional Thanksgiving dinner banquet. But the rabbit hole goes much deeper than that. A year ago, my twins fessed up to how much my decree had helped them in school and in life; and it wasn’t small potatoes. Here’s a look at what they learned:

It helped them with math

All the years of measuring cups and portioning actually improved my girls’ math skills. They told me that they had real “kitchen table” tutoring when it came to fractions and ratios, and it all came from my kitchen.

The cooking was a holiday stress-reliever

When my blood relatives visit, I tend to drink heavily because they drive me nuts — kidding, kind of. As my daughters are underage and without access to the same vices, I figured they were out of luck. However, the girls let me know that the solace of the kitchen (and the ability to kick people out at will) was a considerable holiday stress-reliever, because they can’t stand the extended family either. (Quit mocking me, because you know you dread the visits, too.)

Thanksgiving Day created their favorite childhood memories

It was the third revelation that brought a tear to my eye. My daughters divulged that Thanksgiving dinner preparation had become one of their most highly cherished childhood memories; over birthdays, and beyond parties and presents, it had become a time that they could count on laughing, giggling and spending quality time with their mom (yes, me). Somehow, I had created a holiday ritual that became a holiday blessing.

So, what are you waiting for? Pull your youngsters into the kitchen this year and scramble up some memorable moments all your own.

More from this Contributor:
What to Do When Parents Have a Different Point of View?
Old-School Parenting: Heroes Like Hank
Why Do We Celebrate Mediocrity?

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