With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, I’ve been thinking about family, gratefulness, and thankfulness.
My older son came home yesterday with a craft project he had done. It was a little pumpkin, and on each of the strips of orange construction paper he had written things he is thankful for.
- I am thankful for Minecraft.
- I am thankful for my good food.
- I am thankful for Nintendo Land.
- I am thankful for my Nerf Guns. (This one made me laugh, since he never even plays with the one Nerf gun he has, but whatever).
- I am thankful for my friends.
- I am thankful for my famulie. (Nothing is better than 1st grade spelling).
I hope as he gets older, he will become more grateful and thankful for people and experiences, as opposed to things, like some of the items on his list. But he still included the most important things, good food, friends, and family.
And kids as little as he and his brother are haven’t gotten into the comparison game yet. They are just happy and thankful little beings for simple pleasures in life – playing Legos with mom and dad, going to the park, it being their favorite meal for dinner that night, a drawing passed to them in class from a friend, a warm bed to sleep in. It’s such a good way to be, to be happy with what you have in life instead of wishing for more.
There’s so much sadness going on in the world right now. And in my own little world, I recently witnessed someone expressing a great deal of entitlement and disapproval for a gift being “wrong” and not up to the expectations of this person. There are so many things to be angry about in this world, and being given a lovely gift that maybe wasn’t exactly how you planned it certainly shouldn’t be one of them. This person has everything they could want, but by the same token, perhaps that’s part of the problem. They are caught up in that rat race of always wanting something bigger, better, and more, that they haven’t looked around and really given thanks for all the things they do have.
I’m guilty of this sometimes too. For me, it always crops up with regards to my home. I look around my small condo and compare it to homes that are bigger, less shabby, and nicer. And then I get in a funk, feeling down about our living situation, feeling entitled that I “deserve” a better home, feeling frustrated by the circumstances that have made us “stuck” here.
But it’s gratefulness that always brings me back from that negative thought spiral. When things are quiet, and the kids are tucked into bed, I usually light a candle and tidy up the house. And I usually think about all the things I have to be thankful for. Those sweet little boys, snuggled up in a dry, warm room under their blankets, their arms wrapped around whatever is the stuffed animal du jor. The big, red kitchen, where my husband and I can pour a glass of wine or share a stout, and catch up on the work day. All the toys, the big cozy couch, our funny little cats, a little time to snuggle under a blanket and watch something on Netflix. Yeah, my carpet might be stained and the dishes might be dirty, but hey, it means I have busy, healthy boys that are making messes and we had good food to eat that night. I have a wonderful little home that I can afford. My children are safe and happy.
It is my hope for Thanksgiving that the person in my life I was writing about, and anyone else who might feel similarly, takes a hard look at all those material things they want and desire, and realize that there is so much more to life than all of that.
A couple of years ago around this time of year, I printed out this quote and hung it in my cubicle: “It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy.” I love it so much, and being thankful is such a simple thing that anyone can do to increase their happiness.