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Making New Traditions at Thanksgiving With Young Children

By Lynne Mueller, Head of School


One of the most rewarding aspects of raising children is introducing them to established family traditions and creating new ones. With Thanksgiving approaching, this is the perfect time to think about what Thanksgiving customs you want to pass down to your children.


On this holiday, many families reflect on what they are thankful for, but as we know at Vivvi, the concept of being thankful is an abstract one for young children who are still developing a sense of empathy that will probably not come to fruition until about age 7. To compound this dilemma, with Thanksgiving trapped between the excitement of Halloween and the anticipation of winter holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving is not on always on a young child’s radar.


So what to do? In my family, when all the children were very young, after trying to get the three and under crowd to talk about what they were thankful for with very weak results, we took another direction. With food taking center stage, each of my sisters and their families would make cranberry sauce, giving some to a food bank and some saved for our Thanksgiving table. This simple recipe with a small act of kindness attached continues to this day with all of us having feelings of gratitude for all the blessings in our lives.


If you would like to make cranberry sauce with your children, here are two recipes to try. Rich in vitamin C, A, and K and good for digestion, cranberry sauce is a healthy addition to your Thanksgiving table.


INGREDIENTS

  • One 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries

  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup

  • ½ cup water

  • Zest of 1 medium orange, preferably organic (about 1 teaspoon)

  • Optional add-ins: ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and/or ¼ cup fresh orange juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. First, rinse the cranberries well and drain off excess water. Pick through the cranberries and discard any squishy ones.

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, honey and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the orange zest. If you’d like to add cinnamon or orange juice, add it now. Taste and, if the mixture is too tart (keeping in mind that cranberry sauce is supposed to be a little tart!), add more orange juice, honey or maple syrup to taste.


OR


INGREDIENTS

  • One 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries

  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup

  • ½ cup water

  • Zest of 1 medium orange, preferably organic (about 1 teaspoon)

  • Optional add-ins: ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and/or ¼ cup fresh orange juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. First, rinse the cranberries well and drain off excess water. Pick through the cranberries and discard any squishy ones.

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, honey and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the orange zest. If you’d like to add cinnamon or orange juice, add it now. Taste and, if the mixture is too tart (keeping in mind that cranberry sauce is supposed to be a little tart!), add more orange juice, honey or maple syrup to taste.

NOTES

Recipe adapted from my cranberry crostini.

PREPARE IN ADVANCE/STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: You could definitely make this sauce the day before. It keeps well, refrigerated, for up to a few weeks! I like to swirl leftover sauce into yogurt with granola or oatmeal. Basically, just treat it like jam.

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