Now that it’s November, we are looking squarely in the face of the holiday season. I guess because it’s the end of the calendar, or because Thanksgiving is coming, I find myself sitting back around this time each year and taking stock of my blessings. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to shift from holiday to holiday and I’m troubled that it is not difficult for the season of thankfulness to be quickly eclipsed by the season of want.
Spending time shopping for others at Christmas begins as a selfless activity. Yet, when I am exposed to clothes and gadgets that once I didn’t even know existed; I want them.
If I set aside time to appreciate my family, my friends, the food on the table and the roof over my head, I feel blessed. But, honestly, I’m not always so magnanimous in my appreciation and, sometimes, I’m downright whiny when it comes to day-to-day life.
For 2 ½ years, I taught English to immigrants and refugees. Many of them come from countries that no longer exist as they once were. As a matter of fact, many of them never knew life apart from a refugee camp before ending up in the US. They work hard to improve their opportunities in the country that is now their home and they don’t have much in the way of material possessions. My students always gave me some perspective on my life and forced me to examine my circumstances and think about what I’d been grumbling about during the week.
I’ve been trying to teach this outlook to my children. I want them to realize that, no matter how bad they think they have it, there are way worse conditions in the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do is not an effective parenting technique. So in the spirit of confession and accountability, I’m going to share some of my top life complaints in order to expose them for the weak grievances they are.
Problem #1: There is not much storage in my kitchen, therefore when I buy in bulk; I have to put some stuff downstairs in my laundry room.
Okay, first of all, I have enough food available to me that I can’t store it all. That’s embarrassing to say aloud. And I have a downstairs. And a laundry room. With a washer and dryer.
Problem #2: My husband has a variable schedule that doesn’t allow us to plan more than a few weeks in advance.
Really, I am extremely thankful that my husband has a job. We know lots of people who are not so fortunate right now. Also, he does have days off, so we can plan a little bit and I have a spouse that that I want to spend time with. Those are all good things.
Problem #3: I don’t like my cell phone.
I am a hold out on the smart phone – not because I don’t want one but because I can’t justify the extra $40 per month with the small income that I bring in. Reality is, I can still be contact with whomever I need, whenever I need, and not having Instagram has not stunted my social life.
As we make preparations for Thanksgiving, I desire that the hearts of my family be filled with gratitude and, as Christmas shopping season begins, I want them to be focused on giving and the Giver and not themselves.
I just hope I remember to act that way myself.