Every year Thanksgiving seems to mean more to me. I am incredibly thankful more and more each year for this beautiful life I am lucky to live, every single day. My kids are learning the concept of gratitude, as we talk about it often. Still, I get frustrated as this time of year also brings birthdays and holidays, which in turn brings lots of stuff, objects and clutter.
In struggling to find a way to help my lucky kids feel grateful, I asked my amazing Chicago Now community for some tips. Their selfless advice reminded me that it is possible to raise kids that are grateful in an over abundant world.
I'm sharing with you responses from bloggers at Chicago Now when I asked them the following; "Please share with me how you teach little ones to be grateful in a world of over consumption." I recommend clicking on the writers' names to read more of the insightful, opinionated and honest words of the real people behind the blogs.
Shawna Coronado: "I challenge my kids to spend no money for the holidays. By having us all participate in it, I believe it helps set an example of sharing instead of over consumption."
Sheila Quirke: "We talk about gratitude being the focus of Thanksgiving."
Jenna Myers Karvunidis: "Say a little prayer every night for being thankful for her home, food and family."
Alison Moran: "I took my niece down to the homeless shelter where I worked when she was little and she helped serve the homeless with me."
Annie Derrickson Burnside: "Create a Gratitude Alter together that stays up all year. Each family member offers three items that represent what they are grateful for and share and discuss."
Carrie Goldman Segall: "Our kids, now three girls, know our family's Thanksgiving story - both sadness and joy - and they are very grateful for the family we have."
Teppi Jacobsen: We raised our 2 daughters to be thankful for the health and well being of family above all else...They grew up around very wealthy kids but knew that money did not buy happiness."
Christine Whitley: "We donate to food banks and we talk A LOT about being happy with what you have rather being mad about what you don't"
Suzanne Yellen: "I'm always thankful that at the age of 60, I still have 2 living parents to celebrate this holiday with."
Kelley Farrell: "I have my own, little outreach, called The Pink Bag Project, created to help the homeless who - don't - make it into shelters survive our brutal weather."
Elizabeth Rago: "I really believe it starts small. Being kind to friends at school and sticking up for the little guy."
Finally, Tab Bamford summed up the problem perfectly: "We're getting to a point where receiving is an expectation."
Our world is overflowing with stuff and none of it provides us love, health or family. The more we reflect those three simple elements on our kids; hopefully they will realize the other stuff is not as important as the intangibles.
Clearly, I'm in "Idealistic Land" as my son rolls his eyes and tells me all the Harry Potter Lego sets he wants when I bring up the conversation of giving thanks. Any little morsel the little ones can absorb from both our behaviors and the people we surround them with, will bring fufillment and hopefully gratitude.
This quote, by Ashley Smith, is my wish for my children (and all children and adults) this Thanksgiving.
"Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumblebee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential and fight for your dreams"