I just love Thanksgiving. I call it the “F” holiday: Fall, Family, Friends, Food, Football, and Fun. I love that there are no gifts – only those of being together and connecting. I love cold mornings and cool days. I love the smell of roasting turkey. As a child, I loved visiting my grandmother’s home with my extended family. Now, as an adult and a mom, I have hosted Thanksgiving in my home for over 35 years. (I am not a great cook, but I sure make a delicious turkey and stuffing!)

Thanksgiving is a day when you don’t have to worry about what your kids eat. Serve every dish family style, and let your kids choose what they want to eat. Maybe you have a kid who will not eat stuffing OR mashed potatoes. (I know, weird, right?) So you can also serve macaroni and cheese, and not just to your child, but as another side dish for every guest to enjoy. And encourage your kids to put black olives on their fingertips and eat them one at a time. (I know, weird, right? But fun.) Encourage, but don’t force, your child to eat. Let this be a relaxing meal, for you and for them.

Thanksgiving is the holiday I use to begin teaching children about charity, about sharing with those less fortunate, about thinking of others before themselves. So this week, take your kids grocery shopping. Let them fill the cart with canned goods and a turkey, and then drive directly to a homeless shelter or food bank. Have your children experience the joy of giving. What a valuable lesson to teach your kids.

Thanksgiving is a day to be together, to open your home and your heart to others, and to enjoy making family memories. Take lots of pictures; take the time to relax; and take a long walk in between dinner and dessert. Your body and your heart will enjoy it.

This year, my husband and I will be in Denver (greeted by a snowstorm), cooking a feast for my 92 and 90 year old in-laws, and will be joined by my two adult children. I was sad to see them leave California for their next stage of life, but thrilled that they both chose Colorado for their future adventures. I’m so lucky to be able to take one plane ride, and be surrounded by those I love most.

I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving, and a fun long weekend. Whatever you do, and wherever you are, it’s a chance to create family connections, so enjoy your time together.