I know, I know. It’s hip to be counter-culture and anti-establishment nowadays. But it seems like one thing that’s persisting is this Thanksgiving thing where we teach our kids to be thankful and gracious one day out of the year. And now that it’s over, there’s nary a whisper of being thankful about things. We’re onto bigger and better things, like the pursuit of the “perfect” (read: expensive, but bought on discount) gift.
As time has gone on, we’ve learned the not-incredible truth about Thanksgiving; the holiday’s based on a half-truth legend, and not an amazing one for race relations. Euro-dudes stormed New England, raped and killed the Native Americans, and then sat down to one nice dinner with them to learn how to farm. Then, of course, more raping and killing. Nowadays, Native Americans have got to love seeing stuff about Thanksgiving on television, as we get all pompous and self-righteously thankful.
But that’s like, all in the past. [Insert Awkward Silence]
These days, how do we usually show thanks in our own families? Typically, an uninspired, generic statement at Thanksgiving dinner, like “I’m thankful for my family – and all of you guys!” Sigh.
Instead, parents – let’s teach our kids to be thankful every day. I know, no kidding, right? No, really. There are people in New York still without electricity in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. There are people in Israel and Palestine losing family in firefights. There are people participating in Movember, not because it’s fun to grow a mustache, but because they have cancer and hope to raise funding for a cure.
You get the idea.
There was a trend going around the internet this year where people were observing “Thirty Days of Gratitude” – and it’s a good start, but it’s not enough. Our kids need to know that there are little (and big) things every day that they can, and should be thankful for. Yes, even in April.
We just don’t celebrate enough of the small victories in life; you and your family woke up safely. You’ve obviously got the internet – be thankful. You have a job, and if you don’t, again, you’ve got the internet, so you can hopefully find another. Maybe you’re still without power in New York, but you’ve got blankets to sleep under. It’s uncomfortable, but again, you could be worse off. And this goes for any day of the year – you’ve got at least 365 things to be gracious for, even if you’ve got a broken down car, are unhappy at work, or are unemployed altogether.
Our kids are growing up in a time where unhappiness is everywhere. People are at each others’ throats over politics, the economy’s all meh, and of all things, there’s a Sesame-Street sex scandal going on! Our children need to focus on the good, and be gracious for all of the things we’re fighting for in the world. They get to go to school! They have clothes! They have family! They have running water! They can sit in their backyard safely without fear of being shot at or abducted! It sounds weird to say it all like this, but you’d be surprised what’s left to lose when you think you’re living modestly.
Fathers, join me (now that Thanksgiving is over) in teaching our children that being thankful is a daily, year-round thing. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can turn one uninspired day of thanks into a lifetime of gratitude. And as a bonus, you’ll be teaching your children to say “thank you” to the small things in life. Who knows, maybe someone in public will hear them saying “thank you” and you’ll get major dad points for raising a gracious and wonderful little kid.