Thanksgiving is a holiday that gets better as the kids get older. Sure, those turkey drawings traced around pudgy preschoolers’ hands were sweet. So was hearing my elementary schooler talk about the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock. And watching the little ones dine at the kids’ table at Grandma’s house was adorable, too.
But Thanksgiving with my kids now that they are teenagers? It rocks.
1. Teens sleep in.
Gone are the days of 5:30 am wake-ups to watch Caillou or play Candyland. I can sleep in on Thanksgiving or, if I want to get up early to start cooking, I can get up when I’m ready—and not because someone is poking me in the eyeball.
2. They care about the menu and like the food!
My kids want to know if the stuffing is sweet or savory and whether I’m serving that green bean casserole they liked so much last year. Not only are they interested in the Thanksgiving menu, they’re interested in eating everything we’re having. This is in stark contrast to the Thanksgiving when my son was four and ate nothing but brown sugar. Now he eats everything on his plate, even items that touch each other!
3. Teens can help out and clean up.
Yup, the big kids can be trusted to put Grandma’s lace tablecloth on straight. They can handle the crystal and china with care, light the candles without setting the house on fire, and fold the napkins with sophistication. My teens can also clear the table and do the dishes now. Sure, my kids were able to wash the dishes when they were younger, but they also fumbled my wedding china and dinged the gravy boat unless I supervised.
4. The conversation is more meaningful.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with teens means I can have meaningful conversations about gratitude. It was cute when they were little and gave thanks for SpongeBob and their goldfish, but now it’s amazing to hear them voice appreciation for relationships, health, and the freedom of our country.
5. I can nap again!
The only nap I have to worry about this year is my own. While I indulge in some post-turkey shut-eye, I don’t have to worry that my kids are running into the street or licking the electrical outlets. Heck, they might even join me on the other end of the couch.
6. Teens can stay up late and put themselves to bed.
Now that my kids are older, we can watch a movie after dinner and stay up as late as we want. It’s 10 pm? Bring it, Home Alone! I don’t have to worry about running a bath, washing hair, reading stories, or doing any of the other steps that made up their bedtime routines when they were little. Going to bed on Thanksgiving means saying, “Goodnight, I love you!” no matter who falls asleep first. (Okay, it’s me.)
7. It’s a low-key, stress-free holiday.
Thanksgiving with teens is relaxed. It’s not Christmas, with its intense build-up and piles of gifts. And it’s not Halloween, with drama over who is too old, or too cool, to go trick-or-treating. It’s Thanksgiving, which means I get to spend the day with the family I love, eating good food, and being grateful for it all.
This year as we gather to give thanks, I’m grateful to be celebrating Thanksgiving with teenagers. It doesn’t get any better than that.
This article was originally published by Your Teen for Parents, the premier resource for parents of teenagers.