Thankful times are always available to those who seek for the opportunity to find them…
Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday November 19, 2011
So often, we focus on all that is wrong in our world, all we want, and all we lack. What if, instead, we focused for a moment on the thankful times. One the many things that are SO very right?
There is an inspirational quote that I love that is from the poet Rumi that says:
“But listen to me. For one moment quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms all around you.”
Thankfulness, appreciation and true gratitude. We can show it in many ways and at any time. We don’t have to save it all up for one particular day. We should spread it out, make others feel appreciated and needed and practice random acts of kindness whenever we can.
Recently, I sat down with a few of my favorite kids to ask them what Thanksgiving means to them. Their ages range from 8 to 14 years, so you can imagine what some of their responses were. They ran the gamut from giving thanks for their electronics and video games to giving thanks for their new puppies. I expected these answers.
What I was not expecting was for a few of them to be grateful for their health, their good grades, their grandmother’s cookies and for our soldiers fighting overseas. Children can be so honest, it is startling. Their world is so small and I think we have forgotten what it is like to think like a child.
Thankful times require gratitude for the little things.
Even at a young age we can teach our children how to show gratitude and to think of others and show appreciation. I try, not always successfully, to teach my children that what they want is not always what they need. Most people can simply not imagine their lives without all of the comforts and conveniences we have today. Imagine if you suddenly lost it all, had nothing, and had to care for your family. This is a hard concept to convey to kids and they almost need to see an example for themselves to understand.
|The ‘Little Red Wagon’ cookies they gave us when we left!|
A few weeks ago my family and I attended a screening at the Heartland Film Festival for the movie Little Red Wagon. This movie was about a boy who at the age of 10 organized one of the biggest fundraisers of all time for the homeless children of Florida. This story was not only touching but also thought provoking. The movie followed the main characters as they formed this organization and a mother and her young son that fell into homelessness. It was a great experience and I would do this again in a heartbeat. Not only did we get to meet the director, screenwriter, composer and a few of the actors we also were able to meet the family that the movie was all about. Meeting this family made it seem more ‘real’ to my kids. They were in awe that someone so young could have made such a difference.
But what was so rewarding about sharing this movie with my children was the message that they walked away with. We can teach our kids how to be sensitive to the needs of others but it really brings the message home when they see someone, who is like them and their age, suffering. There was a scene in the movie where the mother and young son were given a backpack with a few small toys, a book, clean underwear and toiletries. The boy was more elated at receiving the soap than the toys. It was a poignant scene in the movie. This small family had been stripped down to the bare essentials: each other.
I walked out of that theater and I could tell that this movie had done what I had been trying, and failing, to do for a few years now; open a dialog with my kids about what it means to be grateful. To be thankful. It’s not about what we don’t have, where we don’t go, what car we don’t drive..it’s these little teachable moments.
I have learned over the last few years to be grateful for all of little things that go together to make up my life. My health, home, career, family, these things are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many unseen heroes that move about without praise, limelight and honors that deserve my gratitude. This is what I am trying to teach my kids. Not just on Thanksgiving, but everyday.