Thanksgiving is here. But by Friday, it will be a memory of turkey and pie and relatives we hardly ever see. And the buying season will be upon us.
Let’s be honest: it’s already upon us. Retailers started advertising “Black Friday” pricing the day after Halloween this year. I know because I get sucked into it every year. Things I didn’t even know I needed end up in my online cart because how could I not buy it at that price. Look at all the money I’m saving us! I’d be a fool not to! (Insert other phrases my husband hates that I say while online shopping here).
So I’m really in no position to preach about shunning the general consumerism that takes over until Dec. 31. But I have been working on upping the gratitude factor in our home, especially as Thanksgiving rolls in for its 15 seconds in the spotlight before the holiday madness.
I’m a firm believer that gratitude can be taught. And more often than not, it needs to be because kids often don’t have a natural knack for true thankfulness and because the world around them rarely stops to express, feel or show gratitude.
Let’s face it, we may never save Thanksgiving from the shadow of the retail mania around it, but maybe we can focus on teaching our kids (and ourselves) how to be grateful year-round.
In our home, we’ve been focusing on five ways to increase gratitude and squelch the greed:
1. Say it. Out loud. Something happens when we verbalize our gratitude. I’m talking about more than a hurried “thanks.” If we stop and actually describe why we are thankful, we have to think about it. We realize just how much we have. This could be in a daily gratitude prayer, a family thankful journal, or even as a nightly tradition around the dinner table.
2. Purge. The more my kids have, the less grateful they are for any of it. As the piles of toys and stuffed animals grow in their rooms, their expressions of gratitude shrink. When there’s too much stuff, none of it has any real value or means anything anymore. So every now and again, we get rid of things, donating them if possible. It’s amazing how owning less makes my children (and me) so much more grateful for what we have.
3. Earn it. Speaking of value, I’ve found one of the greatest ways to help a child feel thankful for something is to make them work for it. The toys or privileges that my children have had to earn through hard work are way more valuable to them. And, they are more grateful for all the time and money I give them every day.1 comment on this story
4. Be a grateful parent. This is one where I often fall short. I’ll complain about my small closet. I’ll remark on how I wish our yard was as nice as our neighbors. In little ways, I talk down my life instead of expressing gratitude for how much I have. As a parent, I can’t expect my kids to do any different if they see me view the world through a critical, covetous lens rather than a thankful one.
5. Give back. Nothing increases the gratitude in our home like doing service. Taking a moment to stop thinking about what we have or don’t have works wonders. When we turn our focus to how we can lighten someone else’s burden, we tend to forget about our own.