This week is Thanksgiving! There’s lots to love about this holiday, and some of it doesn’t even have to do with food (although…pies! stuffing! MORE PIES!).

Thanksgiving is also a great opportunity for teaching and discussion. I know sometimes people have an adverse reaction to that–something like “Stop trying to make my holiday traditions politically correct!”–but so much of the Thanksgiving story is still relevant today. I like thinking about Thanksgiving as a celebration of a history that is still being written, a history that we can take an active part in.

On that note, Fourth World Journal points to a new teaching resource for Thanksgiving developed by a teacher and historian whose ancestors happen to be Quebeque French, Metis, Ojibwa, and Iroquois. He suggests that it’s time to move past some of the myths surrounding Thanksgiving towards historical accuracy, and insists that this will make the holiday more, not less, meaningful. I especially like some of the discussion questions, like this one:

Imagine for a moment that people from different cultures have come to your neighborhood. How will you make them feel welcome? How might you share your possessions with them? What kinds of things could you do to build feelings of friendship and harmony with them?

I think kids in a lot of neighborhoods won’t have to stretch their imaginations very far, and it’s nice to frame the Thanksgiving story in this context.

Thanksgiving is also, of course, about food. And so I end with this recipe, straight from our book Sweet Potato Pie:

Mama’s Sweet Potato Pie

  • 1 Extra-flaky Pie Crust (see below)
  • 1  1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (approx. 3 large)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. Boil until tender, about 30 minutes.
2. Drain off water and put hot potatoes into large bowl. Mash potatoes.
4. Add all remaining ingredients except cinnamon and beat sweet potato mixture until smooth.
5. Pour warm filling into pie crust and sprinkle top with cinnamon.
6. Bake for about 1 hour, until filling is firm and crust is golden brown. Let cool on rack.

Extra-Flaky Pie Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flower
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup cold milk

1. Combine flour and salt in bowl.
2.Add shortening and use pastry blender or fork to cut shortening into flour mixture until crumbly.
3. Add milk and knead dough until soft ball forms.
4. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to form large circle.
5. Place circle of dough into 9-inch pie pan and press dough into corners.
6. Trim off excess dough with knife. Use fork to press down around rim of pan to create decorative edge.

I haven’t tried it yet myself, so if anyone does, let me know how it turns out!

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