Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, is just a few days away. I love it because it’s an opportunity to gather with family, eat great food, and say “Thanks” for the many blessings we enjoy—including one another. Here’s a great story about how the ability of a baby to sign made Thanksgiving dinner extra sweet for one family. It comes from Stella, a former student of mine at UC Davis and great fan of the Baby Signs Program.
Stella and her parents traveled to Reno to share Thanksgiving with her sister, brother-in-law, and 3 kids—including 15-month-old Kayla, a great Baby Signer. Once everyone was seated at the table, Stella’s dad said a short grace and stood up to carve the turkey. Suddenly Kayla squealed and began to excitedly sign “apple.” Despite being offered some applesauce, Kayla kept repeating the sign even more determinedly. Finally, seemingly out of frustration, Kayla added a second sign—“Thank you” to her “apple” sign. It was then that her mom figured it out. At dinner time at Kayla’s house, instead of saying grace at the table, the tradition was to hold hands and sing the “Johnny Appleseed” song—the one where you “thank the Lord” for “the sun and the rain and the apple seed.” Kayla clearly felt that her grandfather’s grace wasn't good enough! Once everyone held hands and sang the song with real gusto, Kayla was satisfied and settled down to eat—no doubt saying a silent “thanks” that she’d finally gotten her message across!
Helping children learn to be truly thankful for the blessings in their lives is a challenge that every parent faces. Teaching the sign for “thank you” (fingertips moving in an arching motion outward from the chin) is a great way to get it started at a remarkably early age. And what better time to start than Thanksgiving!