We want Cate to grow up grateful as well. Right now this mostly consists of teaching her to say "please" and "thank you." But includes other things as well...things we teach her by example. Like cleaning out our closets once a year and getting rid of things we no longer need or use. Or giving money at church. Or donating our time by volunteering.
Every year our church does a Thanksgiving food drive. This year we had the biggest response yet. The boxes collected (each one will feed a family) are expected to feed 240,000 people! Our church has a sister church in South Africa, so in addition to feeding people in our local tri-state area, we collected food to send to Mamelodi as well.
Last year, Eric and I challenged ourselves to fill one Thanksgiving box for one family in need. This year we filled another box, and a box for South Africa (because of Customs and Shipping Specifics, we were given a box with specific items to buy...in our case it was a dozen canisters of powdered fruit juice mix). In addition, Cate brought in a jar of peanut butter (all of the kids in Kids' Club, which is kind of like Sunday School, were asked to bring in peanut butter to send to South Africa). We know Cate didn't understand where the peanut butter was going or even why she was carrying it into church (she thought it was a toy), but we know that instilling an attitude of gratitude in her starts early.
It's so easy to enjoy life when we are blessed with plenty. But there are many people this holiday season that are worried about keeping the heat on and food on the table, not presents under the tree. Buying an entire Thanksgiving dinner for a family costs money, and required a little sacrifice on our part. But one or two less dinners out at a restaurant for us, means another family will sit at a table on Thursday to share a meal.
We're all pinching pennies where we can in an economy that's trying to recover (and we're all trying to save a little too so that we're more prepared should we encounter more economic troubles in the future). But I promise, if you sacrifice a little to give a little, you get so much more in return. So skip that latte at Starbucks one morning and put the money in that red Salvation Army pot. Or pick up an extra toy the next time you're at Target and donate it to a toy drive. Find those few sweaters that you really don't wear anymore and drop them off at Goodwill, or a homeless shelter, so they can keep someone else warm. Volunteer a few hours at a soup kitchen. Grab your kids and make cookies for your neighbors or make cards for patients in nursing homes. The opportunities to give of your time and/or your resources abound! Make the most of the season.
C'mon...this has got to be inspiring (pictures from cell phone earlier tonight at our church's box drop off...sorry for the low quality):
(we cause quite a traffic jam during box drop off...humor helps when you're sitting there stuck)
And if you have the time, check out this article.