Aaaah, the dreaded Christmas wish list. I don’t know whether I should jump for joy or break down and cry. Does anyone else have this reaction when your children start writing out all their hopes and dreams on a little sheet of paper addressed to Santa?
I recently sat down with both of my little kids as they wrote letters to Old St. Nick. I have fond memories of perusing the Sears Christmas catalog as a child, longingly hoping for the latest toys, and as I got older, beautiful pieces of jewelry. So I know full well the excitement and anticipation of the gifts we might receive.
So it was with much enthusiasm (and a little trepidation) that I watched my kids think through their lists. I had one who wrote a sweet little note, asking for 5 ridiculously inexpensive toys. This child also drew a present on the back of the note with a thought bubble that said, “It is not just about me.”
But then my other little one decided to write an extended Christmas wish list. It contained no fewer than fifty items. Yes, you read that correctly. 50. Five Zero. And the list was four pages long. I thought it would never end.
I don’t even know what to say about this.
I thought we were raising semi-grateful kids. I mean, we don’t place a lot of emphasis on material goods. And generally, if the kids want something, they use their own money to buy it. (Or they ask grandparents…) Birthdays and Christmas are pretty big in our house, but even then, we don’t go crazy with the presents.
So when I saw the never-ending Christmas list, I was slightly overwhelmed and a little distressed. What is happening over here?
And then I realized something. Thankfulness begins with me.
Every year during the month of November, our family focuses on things we are thankful for. We make a turkey and write notes on the feathers. Or we make a “Thankful Tree” and write words on the leaves. These turkeys or trees hang in our kitchen and we take notice of our blessings all month long.
But this year, Thanksgiving snuck up on me. For real.
I can’t believe it’s already November, much less Thanksgiving week. And we have done nothing to prepare the hearts of our children for thankfulness this year.
I’m such a slacker mom sometimes.
And let me be honest for a minute. There hasn’t really been much of a spirit of thankfulness in our home lately. Chaos ensues as Peter tries to study while tending to children who are too sick to attend school. Tensions run high as I rush home from work to get supper on the table only to shuttle one child or another to their various activities. We collapse in exhaustion at the end of every day, grumbling and complaining about jobs or household responsibilities or children’s teachers or misbehaviors.
Thankfulness is not on our minds most days. In fact, most days, instead of thriving, we are just trying to survive.
Our pastor recently challenged us to pursue a mindset not just of “thanksgiving” but of “thanksliving.” His examples illustrated the point well. We can say we are thankful but unless we are living like we’re thankful, we probably aren’t as grateful as we would like to think.
And November shouldn’t be the only time we focus on thankfulness. We should constantly have an attitude of gratitude in our heart.
I want to do better in this area.
Instead of complaining about the never-ending laundry or a stressful day at work, I will be thankful that my children have clothes and I have a job.
Instead of complaining about my children’s misbehaviors, I can be thankful that Jesus gave these precious little ones to me and that He will give me wisdom to parent them in the ways they need.
Instead of complaining about how tired I am, I will rest in the One who created Sabbath. I will soak up His Word each day and lean on Him to get through the exhaustion.
It’s so much easier to focus on the difficult and irritating circumstances of life, isn’t it? But thankfulness is a choice we have to make. Every Single Day.
What are some ways you can show gratitude in your everyday life throughout the year?