Gratitude in the Time of Abundance
It’s hard not to notice how much our kids have. One study found that not that long ago – only a few decades – the average child had 50 toys. By 1995, that number had jumped to 500! That’s an awful lot of toys. No wonder we see so many kids with an “entitlement complex.” They’ve never had to do without, so they grow up thinking they shouldn’t.
But that’s not exactly my point this month. Regardless of how much you have – or don’t – to give your kids this season, they can learn to be grateful for all of it. Not everyone can afford a Christmas vacation in the Swiss Alps, but you shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed if you can. And you shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed if you can’t. The key is to value what you have, whether you consider it to be a lot or a little, enough or not.
The children who have less than their friends are often keenly aware that others have more than they do. But instead of letting them dwell on what they lack, help your kids recognize the things they do have. One favourite toy is no worse than 499 that no one plays with. We need to encourage awareness of the good in our lives, and appreciation of what we do have.
Being able to share of ourselves is a gift. Some of us are able to share our financial resources by writing a cheque or making a donation. Some of us are able to volunteer our time and our talents. One is not better than the other; any charitable organization will you tell you that they need both to function smoothly. So whether your tree is more Charlie Brown than Rockefeller Center, or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. Help your kids to realize that we all have something to be happy and grateful for, regardless of our circumstances.
How can you encourage gratitude in your own family this holiday? A few ideas to get you started…
- create a new family tradition of going through your toys sometime before the holidays and donating all of the ones that no one plays with, to make room for the new gifts your kids will receive this month.
- Volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen this month, or go shopping with your kids and help them buy food to donate. Decide on a budget before you hit the store, and teach them to become astute shoppers in the process.
- Take your kids shopping to buy their own gifts to give. Even little ones get excited choosing something special for family members. Give them a few dollars to get them started, and take them shopping to make their own choices. Fostering the excitement of giving (not just receiving) and a little one-on-one time with each child? Win-win!
- Whenever you have family celebrations, take some time to go around the table and share what everyone is grateful for. This tradition doesn’t have to be relegated to only Thanksgiving! Think about what you are most grateful for in your lives, and then share that with your kids…especially if they are what you are most grateful for.
There’s more to happiness than gifts and “stuff.” Ideas here on How To Be Happy every day of the year.
Volunteering and making donations can become one of your family’s Favourite Holiday Traditions!
This is a great season for Making Memories.