Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, a day millions spend with family and enjoy turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. For kids, it’s a day off from school and an opportunity to see cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and other relatives….for most kids anyway.
Over 100,000 kids are today wondering, worrying, and hoping for a ‘forever family’. Getting up early and spending too long in a car that seems to be barely moving in the holiday traffic would be a joy. Many would welcome squabbling with cousin Jackie or elbowing their brother at the “kids’ table”. Listening to the baby fuss and cry would be a treat. Negotiating with siblings and cousins over video games and television channels would be acceptable. Even having to put up with Uncle Carl and his pulling pennies out from behind their ears and messing up the hair would be totally fine.
Another 300,000+ kids are spending the Thanksgiving holiday with strangers, separated from their parents and often their siblings. For these kids, there will be activities, food, and family that is unfamiliar. And there will be yearning to go ‘home’ or to have their family happy and healthy, emotionally and physically. In some cases, there will be relief to be away from abuse and neglect.
An even larger number, about 15% to 20% of the child population in the US, are wishing they could have a ‘typical’ holiday meal. These are the children who are living in poverty. Their families cannot afford the luxury of a huge meal for Thanksgiving. There won’t be any turkey and stuffing. More likely there will be processed foods purchased with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or picked up at the local food pantry. (Fresh foods often aren’t affordable of accessible for these families.) Or maybe they are eating with hundreds of others at a ‘soup kitchen‘ or homeless shelter.
These are the children that will not be enjoying Thanksgiving. These are the kids that wish for the family, food, and friends that make today special. Maybe next year they will enjoy Thanksgiving food and fun with their families….