Council Letter

November 15, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

Charlie Brown’s dinner proves to be a real turkey in the 1973 TV classic, Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “I can’t cook Thanksgiving dinner. All I can make is cold cereal and maybe toast,” Charlie frets. Yet he decides to host his friends for the holiday after learning that one of them, Peppermint Patty, is going to be alone. Linus, who’s Charlie’s best friend, enlists Snoopy and Woodstock to help, and they all try to do their best. Snoopy sets up a ping pong table and chairs. Charlie, Snoopy, Woodstock and Linus then prepare a meal that’s far from what Patty had in mind. “What’s this? A piece of toast? A pretzel stick? Popcorn? What blockhead cooked all this?” she exclaims.

And you can understand her sense of consternation. For many folks, Thanksgiving is all about food. “What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?” quipped American humorist Erma Bombeck. “Thanksgiving without turkey is like Fourth of July with no apple pie or Friday without two pizzas,” Joey pointed out in an episode of Friends. And writer Nora Ephron shared Joey’s fond regard for the traditional Thanksgiving meal. “The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don’t think so.”

But think again. There are other ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. In Barbados, the Crop Over Festival includes singing, dancing, drinking and a competition to climb up a greased pole. Brazilians begin their Day of Giving Thanks with a church ceremony and end it with a carnival in the streets. In northern India, people mark the harvest with a bonfire to reignite the return to longer days. In Liberia, a nation founded by freed slaves, people use the day to show gratitude for their liberation. The Chinese hold a mid-autumn moon festival in which they light paper lanterns and eat mooncakes with family and friends. So, Thanksgiving traditions worldwide range from hearty feasts to sharing heartfelt blessings. Yet the spirit is the same. Thanksgiving is a chance to spend time with loved ones reflecting on what’s important, something children should understand in our diverse nation. Telling them about these different traditions promotes inclusion, and inclusion matters to the educators we feature in this month’s edition.

Dr. Sarah Vanover speaks out for all children as the policy and research director of Kentucky Youth Advocates and author of Including All Children: Transitioning to an Inclusive Early Learning Program. Her new book comes from a personal space as the mother of a 10-year-old boy born with autism. It was hard to find supportive learning environments for him, as she explains, since teachers in most child care programs don’t have the training needed to help special needs children advance.

And Mary Olvera knows firsthand the challenges that parents face when they have special needs kids. Her son was born disabled, and she struggled to advance his growth while building a career. She might have given up on her education and goals without a caring mentor who saw her promise. The encouragement Mary received inspired her to go from working in a sock factory to serving as education program administrator/CTE coordinator in the North Carolina Community College System, where she helps rising teachers earn their CDA.

People like Mary have helped the Council reach a milestone, awarding our millionth CDA, as Dr. Moore points out in his blog, A Million Reasons to Give Thanks. Council staff just marked the occasion at our headquarters in Washington, DC, where we showed our gratitude for the achievement and toasted Jada Vargas, the Native teen who is the millionth person to earn our valued credential. No, we didn’t dine on turkey and all the trimmings, but our gathering expressed the true meaning of Thanksgiving, as Marcie, one of Charlie Brown’s friends, explained at his dinner. “Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by Thanksgiving.”

Happy Thanksgiving,
The Council for Professional Recognition


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