A few weeks ago, my husband and I were babysitting some of our friends’ kids. Their 4 kids + our 2 kids = a beautiful night of chaos. In the midst of that chaos, I kept hearing their kids use expressions like, “excuse me”, “please, may I…”, and even “thank you.” It made me extremely aware of the absence of these words in my kids’ vocabulary. It also made me more observant when I was around their family over the next few weeks. Do you know what I noticed? It was HUGE. The mom and dad never reminded their children to say their please and thank you. Instead, they modeled it. Every time mom needed to interrupt her kids’ play to ask them something, she began with “excuse me.”
It made me realize that my kids’ lack of manners was directly related to my MY lack of them.
I think the same goes for the spirit of thankfulness. Thankfulness comes from the character of a person,which most likely comes from the character of their family. (I’m no expert, but I’m starting to think that in my home, nurture might be winning the battle over nature.) The kicker is, I want a spirit of thankfulness for myself and I want it for my kids.
So, I started wondering, how does one cultivate that spirit of thankfulness? My conclusion… It seems to happen in the everyday ride in the car, eating at the dinner table, and even the tuck-in at bedtime. Yes, I need to model thankfulness in the everyday, mundane parts of life.
Practically speaking, to give my family a tangible way to give thanks this Thanksgiving, we’re creating a thankful tree. We took some sticks from the back yard and attached some paper leaves with tape and wire. Then, on the nights we all make it to the dinner table, we spend some time thinking of things we can to give thanks for. We add a leaf or two each night, either drawing or writing on the leaf. And when I walk past the tree, I have this visual reminder that I’m blessed with family, friends, goodbye kisses at the bus stop, smiles, and even a family that says “thanks.”