In 1881 Louis May Alcott [of later Little Women fame] published a short story titled An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving. It is a delightful picture of a family of children left alone who decide to prepare a full Thanksgiving feast by theselves... with predictably amusing results. I have used this wonderful story for years with children both at school and at home. I found that sometimes kids were slow to get into the story [I explained unfamiliar spices] but once the mistakes began happening, they truly enjoyed listening, and couldn't wait to see how things all turned out. My kid's favorite is the currently available new Alcott/Wheeler illustrated version [above] though I also like the available used Alcott/McCurdy version with its woodcut illustrations [below] .
The School Library Journal review wrote:
"When their parents are called away to care for an ailing grandmother, seven children continue preparations for the family's Thanksgiving meal, hoping to surprise and cheer their parents on their return. And although the plum pudding is rock-hard and the turkey stuffing bitter, the children's efforts are appreciated, and the holiday gathering is enjoyed by all. A high-spirited, good-humored account of rural, 19th-century New Hampshire Thanksgiving, this story demonstrates Alcott's belief that health, and work, and cheery good will are of greater value than wealth and position. Her description of children gives the impression that she both understood and liked them."
LINKS: You can download the text free online: http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/lma/oft.html or at http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/lmalcott/bl-lmalc-old-fashion.htm You can also find a version with music box background: http://www.victorianas.com/thanks/alcott.html
WARNING: Be aware...the Hallmark TV movie may be based on the original and may be wonderful BUT it makes BIG additions to the story. They add jealousy, romance, a bitter estrangement, widow the mom, etc. etc. etc. Read the original!