By: Sandra L. Churchill
“You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”
This is a favorite saying that a kindergarten teacher friend of mine shares regularly with her young students. This simple reminder for boys and girls to appreciate whatever color construction paper or whatever prize they are given is one that has no expiration date.
At our house, the message is a bit shorter but no less sweet: have a gratitude attitude. When our older two daughters were little, they liked the rhyming part of the message. We’d sing-song the reminder in the car, at the dinner table, or at a toy store. If they were disappointed about having to leave the playground or a playdate, we’d remind them to appreciate the fun they had and the privilege of going to parties and other cool places. If they had trouble sharing or taking turns with a toy, we’d remind them how lucky they were to have toys to play with and share.
As our girls got older, they would sometimes notice that one friend had a flat screen TV in her room, while another had the entire collection of Special Edition Holiday Barbies, and a third had every iPod, GameBoy, and other gadget that hit the shelves. As a family on a budget (with an emphasis on me staying home with them to work as a freelancer and consultant instead of a 50-60 hour work and travel schedule), money was sometimes very limited. We would remind our girls that we made choices to spend time with them and sometimes this meant doing without some things. We were blessed to be able to make that choice and we valued the time as a family over some luxuries that we could live without. They seemed to get the message and would even echo to each other “gratitude attitude” if they heard somebody at home or school complaining or acting entitled.
When our little guy came along, this gratitude attitude flowed into his vocabulary. He seems to embrace each adventure without fussing over life’s little disappointments, and his big sisters serve as teachers who model this message of grace and appreciation.
With Thanksgiving just a few days behind us, it seems appropriate to keep the spirit of gratitude going. I had to remind myself just today that though work is a bit more scarce these days and money is a bit tighter than we’d like it to be, I have no right to be anything but grateful for God’s many blessings in our lives. I am truly thankful for family, friends, heath, food and heat. And though, at times, I am humbled by my own disregard for the many positives in life, I am blessed each day by a fresh chance to begin again and get it right. Each morning, we are all given a fresh start to smile and embrace the day with a sunny spirit brimming with gratitude.