Everywhere you look on Facebook, there are people being grateful. There are lists of children, family members, blessings, and activities. It would be a difficult task to ignore the outpouring of gratitude sprinkled all over your news feed.
My kids are learning about Thanksgiving at school, and all about the pilgrims and why we celebrate Thanksgiving. They’re learning at church what it means to be grateful.
But there’s a problem.
Christmas is already up in the grocery stores. Black Friday deals are turning into “The Week Before Thanksgiving” Deals. Consumerism is still alive and well. Kids are getting the “gimmes” and the “gotta-have-its”.
I’m fighting an uphill battle when I try to teach my kids how to be grateful. They have so many clothes that they have a hard time choosing what to wear. Their toys are so plentiful that they can’t choose which ones to pull off the shelf. They eat at restaurants often enough that many times it becomes an expectation, rather than a treat.
And to be honest, taken alone, these things are not bad. I’ve purchased all the clothes and toys. Because of our full and crazy life, we eat at restaurants frequently. We are blessed.
I’ve taken many of the toys out of our house and sold them or donated them (see how here and here), leaving only the cars, the balls, and the puzzles. I’ve weeded through clothes and purged my whole house. We have changed the way that we eat, which cuts out a lot of restaurants. We have never done, and will continue to not, excessive presents for holidays or birthdays.
And yet, I’m still faced with the challenge of teaching my kids how to be grateful.
To be in the habit of being grateful.
This is something that we will be focusing on so heavily in the coming season. There are so many things for them (and me) to be grateful for.
First and foremost, I am grateful for Jesus.
And that is what I want my kids to know, more than anything — gratitude to Jesus. Gratitude for Jesus.
Going into this season, I want them to realize that the whole reason why we celebrate Christmas — Jesus. I want them to know on Thanksgiving day that the ginormous meal that we are sharing with our family provides so many things to be incredibly grateful for.
Once they understand all of this gratitude, I want them to know that because we are grateful for Jesus, we are to love.
That’s all that matters — that we love. We are to here to do nothing else. Jesus died to give us new life to do nothing else.
If I can cultivate the habit of being grateful in my kids (and in myself), it will inevitably lead them to love. Unconditional, unwavering, unquestioning love. Love for those who are broken, lost, and alone. Love for those who feel that they don’t deserve love.
And that is how a Spartan loves — through overwhelming gratitude.
So going into this season of Thanksgiving, it is my mission to make sure that my boys learn gratitude that will become a habit for the rest of their lives — not just during a month of thankful status updates.
How do you teach your kids gratitude? Leave me a comment!
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