In this season of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but review my life to discover the things I’m grateful for.
It’s a good habit to do weekly, if not daily. But I find the taste of cinnamon and pumpkin turns my heart especially mushy this time of year. The smell of soggy leaves and the sound of Christmas music playing too early kicks me back in time and makes me reminisce.
Reminiscing, I can’t help but think of my parents.
These days, it’s trendy to give millennials a bad wrap for being ungrateful. The perception seems to be that we care more about our friends on social media and weekend drinking buddies than our parents.
I think that’s a load of doggy doo!
Case in point: I love my parents, I think about them a lot, and (gasp) I even feel like I’ll never be able to truly show my appreciation. Thinking back, my parents were always there for me, and while they were not perfect, they sure did a lot of things right. I grew up happy and content, and only have my parents to thank for that.
So in their honor (and to defeat the ungrateful-millennial stereotype), below are 7 reasons I’m grateful my parents raised me.
1. My parents let their kids play outside.
My parents owned a decent yard in the middle of the city. A little patch of green space, big enough to hold a slip and slide and even an inflatable pool at one point.
All of us went camping; we went hiking; we made countless trips to The Ocean.
My sisters and I got dirty. We got exposed to germs. We even got stung by bees, bicycled into blackberry bushes, and scraped our knees bloody. It was so good for us!
2. They limited our screen time.
This may seem like a foreign concept now. And it was possibly something I was mad about when I was younger (Mom hardly even let me watch Pokémon! C’mon!).
Limiting screen time allowed us to do all the other healthy activities a kid should do (see #1, #2, #3, and #6).
3. They read to us as often as possible.
Reading to us before bed was possibly the most important memory I have of my parents. Well, mostly my mom, admittedly. She’s a schoolteacher – my dad couldn’t really top that.
It takes me back to the a-frame room I shared with my sister. We are tucked in bed. The room is full of golden, diffused light. Cozy. My mom’s soothing voice reads words, bringing stories to life. So many adventures to choose from – the Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Where the Red Fern Grows, Little House on the Prairie.
I believe these before-bed reading sessions are the reason I feel in love with words. They sparked my creativity and helped keep nightmares at bay.
4. My parents always had art supplies on hand to encourage our bubbling creativity.
Remember when you were a kid and you drew whatever tickled your fancy? Cars, trains, ponies, princesses? I certainly do, because I still draw to this day. If I had been on my smartphone (which didn’t exist back then, fair enough), I would’ve missed opportunities to develop my skills.
Plus, those Learn-to-Draw books were bomb. I learned how to draw a mean camel.
5. They took us on vacation to far away places.
Ok, even Canon Beach in Oregon was exotic enough for us! But places like Disney World in Florida and Washington, D.C. were amazing. We learned lots of history visiting the museums and historic sites up and down the East Coast.
These trips allowed us to glimpse how people in different parts of the nation lived. It gave me a healthy appreciation for just how cool air travel is (get across the country in 8 hours? Heck yes!). And it strengthened our bonds as a family.
Nothing quite beats playing with paper dolls with your sisters and listening to White Fang on audio cassette during a road trip to Yellowstone National Park.
6. My parents taught us how to be empathetic.
I don’t remember exactly how they did it, and maybe some of us are born with empathy more than others. But I know my two sisters and I grew up feeling attuned to others’ feelings.
This meant that Disney’s heart-breakers, like the Lion King, could be traumatizing experiences. It also meant we didn’t participate in bullying classmates. Niceness is so underrated these days!
7.They gave us enough time to play…and played with us.
We spent hours in the family room playing Adventure Time with our Breyer Horses and dolls.
“Pillow Fights” with dad involved chucking couch pillows at each other as hard as possible (I’m surprised we never broke anything).
And of course, there were the countless bike rides spent pretending we were riding horses in the wilderness.
My Parents Rocked
Without the diligence, persistence and care of my parents, I wouldn’t be half of who I am today. They filled my childhood with sunny times and happy memories; a childhood I’d be lucky to recreate for my kids someday.
Most of all, my parents proved they loved me. They gave me time to explore, play, create, adventure. The memories I have and the creativity they encouraged will stick with me wherever I go.
Thanks mom and dad!
What are some reasons you’re thankful for your parents this Thanksgiving season?