I remember when Alex and Soph were little and someone would give them something like a drink or a snack, I’d have to prompt them with a ‘what do you say…?’ and they’d follow with a squeaky, ‘thank you!’ Now that they are 10 and 14 years old, there’s no need for prompting and I feel like I’ve done my job, teaching them good manners. The thing is, though, I want them be more than just courteous, I actually want them to be thankful. OK, maybe not a deep meaningful thanks for a cookie, but I do want them to understand why giving thanks is important.
Whenever the opportunity presents itself and the time is appropriate, I start a conversation about how blessed/lucky we are as a family. Sometimes it’s as we share delicious meal we prepared together; sometimes it’s when we’re laughing over funny stories while playing a game. I’ll usually start by saying how I am the luckiest Mom in the world and how thankful I am to have such awesome kids…or something like that to start the conversation. I think the important part is that I reflect out loud and acknowledge my thanks as an example. Alex and Sophia usually follow suit, and we end up sharing stories as examples of how blessed we are.
I have always enjoyed volunteering. Be it delivering Meals-on-Wheels, helping build a house with Habitat for Humanity, or just donating blood–It allows me to serve others. I believe that service to others is the greatest thing we as people can do for each other–it is in service to others that we learn the most. I have always wanted to get my kids involved an volunteering with me and this year I finally did, thanks to Sophia. For school, her class went on a field trip to ‘Feed My Starving Children’…she LOVED it and insisted that we do it as a family. I agreed. It was the perfect fit for us, the kids ages were allowed and we could sign-up easily on-line. We had a great time doing it and are looking forward to our next trip to help.
Volunteer opportunities not only allow us to serve others, but for me, it puts my life in perspective and I feel it does the same for my kids. When we are putting food packets together to feed kids that need food around the world, we realize the the meals we eat each day should not be taken for granted.
Giving is another way of serving. It can be in the form of your time, money, expertize or even outgrown or un-needed ‘stuff’. For us, the kids and I give our time to organizations like Meals-on-Wheels and Feed My Starving Children, and our dollars to Second Harvest Heartland and our local food-shelf. We also donate any of our outgrown clothes, toys and general stuff (as long as they’re in good condition) to our local Goodwill to make sure the items are reused and the cash received for them is used for a good purpose.
When we as people give to others it is because we value and appreciate the lives of those who share this planet with us. It is a way of demonstrating thanks and when we, as parents, make a purposeful, planned decision to give, our kids learn that giving is an essential part of life. That old saying, ‘Kids learn what they live,’ is true. Kids who learn to give, continuing giving throughout their lives.
I also know my kids will not always be thankful and gracious people. Despite all my best intentions, I surely am not; but, I will do my best to guide my kids in the right direction, being honest and providing information, opportunities and experience. Because I truly believe that kids…well people in general…who appreciate what they have, are the happiest people around.
What about your family….what are some ways you give thanks?
Happy Thanksgiving Season Everyone!