Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and being thankful

It is Thanksgiving today and this year we are doing absolutely nothing. So far I have always made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year here in Germany because the tradition was important to me. We have done it with different people but we have always done it but this year we are all sick and I just though ehh. Teddy is still too little to "get it" so we will skip just this one teeny weensy year and come back next year with a vengeance.

What I have been thinking a lot about however is gratitude, thankfulness, and being appreciative for what we have. I am so thankful that I grew up in a really loving family and had a spectacular childhood. However I know at the time I was not very thankful at all. I wanted lots of presents for Christmas and my birthday. I loved getting things and having things and I rarely knew their worth. It wasn't until I started working summers and part time during the school year when I turned 16 that I started to sort of "get it" but really it wasn't until much later when I had moved to Germany and was living on my own that I could ever begin to comprehend all the sacrifices my mother made for me and all the ways she made my childhood and life (even now!) so easy and wonderful.

Now some of this was due to being a kid and then a teen and having a brain which just wasn't mature and having lots of crazy hormones coursing through me. However I also tended to get things easily- my mom just wanted me to have a nicer childhood then she had had so she perhaps tended to swing in the other direction making sure I knew I was loved unconditionally not only through words and gestures but also by buying me things even when perhaps the money wasn't really all there.

Right now I am in a position to buy Teddy lots of stuff. Right now Teddy does not need or want lots of stuff but the day is coming in which this will change and he will start asking for things and I am sure I will have trouble saying no. My husband not so much :)

So we have been putting some traditions in place which hopefully will help us start on a path in which Teddy can be grateful for what he has. For his birthday he gets one gift from us, that is it. He also gets a party and all that but we think one gift is enough. For Christmas we will be doing one gift from us and a few (1-3) gifts from Santa, one of which will be a book! I should add that advents calenders are a big deal here. They are personalized, often small cloth bags, with little special gifts for each day, so he will be getting that as well.

It is hard because who doesn't love seeing their child smile or laugh in delight at receiving something but at the same time I know in the end it means much more when you have to wait a bit for it, when it isn't a done deal just by asking. I still remember not receiving a present one year for Christmas which I really wanted, Mall Madness, an amazing board game which I believe is still sold today for anyone looking for a great gift for their spouse or partner LOL. I was shocked and angry and couldn't believe it. I know my mom felt terrible but when I got it the next year you can bet I was more then thrilled and also thankful.

Besides limiting gift giving, I am planning on doing thank you cards with him,encouraging volunteering (something my mother also encouraged with me and which was such a wonderful experience throughout my school years), trying to be a good role model, focusing on reusing the things we have instead of always buying new things, getting him really involved in the home so he can more easily understand the work involved, and we will be doing an allowance once he hits 3.

What are some things you are doing to encourage thankfulness in your children? Or what were some ways your parents helped you to be grateful?