This year, we did the old-fashioned-write-with-a-marker-on-a-piece-of-construction-paper. It’s not pretty, but the kids scramble to write a word of thankfulness on that yellow paper. They’ve written everything from God to robots. (And yes, Mommy finally made the list yesterday!)
As we discuss the things we’re thankful for — a warm house, good food, a closet full of clothes and my family — I’ve turned contemplative.
The things I’m most thankful for are also the things I tend to complain about.
I’m thankful for my warm house but oh, do I really have to sweep the floors again? And that squeaky door is getting on my last nerve!!
I’m thankful for good food but seriously, do I have to cook three meals a day? And do the dishes afterward, too?
I’m thankful for my closet full of clothes but will the laundry ever be done?!
I’m thankful for my family but trying to figure out when Thanksgiving dinner will be and who’s bringing what dish is about to drive me crazy!
But the one that really gets me is this:
I’m thankful for my children, but they are interrupting me on the computer, messing up my clean floors, whining at me, shouting at each other and won’t even let me take a shower alone!
Thankful Versus Bitter
How can I tell my children to be thankful for the little things when I go from a thankful loving heart to a hard bitter heart in .002 seconds?
This is something Ann Voskamp talks about in her book, One Thousand Gifts. The whole book is about thanksgiving, or rather giving thanks. Specifically, she talks about how giving thanks changes the self–and then others around you. After reading the book, I saw this happen in my own life.
My daughter had been whining, complaining and pouting about doing the dishes. I had already had it out with her about another chore earlier. And when those stomps and whines started about the dishwasher, I couldn’t take it. I wanted to send her to her room with a vengeance. Instead, somehow, I stopped and said to myself, “Thank you, God, for her little white face.” She’s very pale and that paleness is somehow adorable to me.
And when I said those few words, I felt a release on the inside of me. I remembered that my daughter and my role as mother was more important than the dishes. I brought her to me, we talked about obedience and the dishes. We even prayed together and what do you know? She walked right over to the dishwasher without an ounce of a bad attitude and finished her chore!
Ann Voskamp writes, “A parent must always self-parent first, self-preach before child-teach, because who can bring peace unless they’ve held their own peace?”. When our kids get under our skin like only they can, our first response should be not the bitter heart, the heavy sighs and the loud shouts, it should be: giving thanks. When you do this, you’ll feel a peace inside of you which can then be transferred to your children. That’s what I felt that day at the dishwasher. I stopped and self-parented. I held my own peace in order to bring peace to my daughter.
My encouragement for you this Thanksgiving season is to be actively thankful about the things that make you the most aggravated. When your temperature rises during the craziest points of this week, stop and give thanks. See how peace invades you and how easily it will be to pass onto your children!
What aggravating things can you give thanks for today?
|Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at OhAmanda.com and Impress Your Kids. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!|