Thanksgiving is the season dedicated to reflecting in a spirit of gratitude on all the blessings of our lives … being thankful for the things we have.
It’s a great idea, and one that really ought not be limited to one day a year.
After all, when you really stop and think about it, most of us have quite a lot for which to be thankful: Health, comfortable homes, loving families, more than enough food to eat, a car that starts every morning, a job that allows us to pay the bills …
But it’s also a pretty good idea, while we’re at it, to be thankful for all the things we DON’T have – and that same list comes into a new light when we look at it from that angle.
Illness; maybe serious illness. Looming eviction, or even homelessness. Dysfunctional or abusive families. Not knowing where the next meal is coming from, or whether there will even be a next meal. A broken-down car you can’t afford to fix, or one without gas, or no vehicle at all. A job that pays maximum stress but minimum wage, certainly not enough to meet all the financial obligations that are piling up.
The point here is not to heap guilt on anyone for their good fortune. By all means, give thanks and enjoy!
But especially for parents, grandparents or anyone who has a child in their lives, this holiday season opens the door for the kinds of lessons that change lives.
Kids learn what we teach them, and what better thing to teach a child than compassion for others – and being grateful for the means and opportunity to bring joy to another person, especially when done discreetly or even anonymously.
This Thanksgiving season, consider asking your children or grandchildren to list some of the things for which they are thankful, and then challenge them to think of ways they can share their blessings with others.
Best of all, encourage your child to think of things that are not material possessions. Even the youngest child can comprehend and express appreciation for having a friend, for playing with someone who plays nicely, shares and takes turns. Those are gifts too, and worthy of gratitude, and what a great feeling to treat others in such a way that you know they are thankful to have you as their friend.
Who knows? Thinking of all the things that someone else might not have – a smile, a kind word – and then being the instrument that gives that gift … well, it might turn out that giving Thanksgiving away makes it the best Thanksgiving of all.
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