“Say thank you, Mommy.”
I’ve been teaching manners to my daughter since she was less than a year old and only able to communicate with sign language.
As a pseudo-Southern mama, it only seems right that I teach my kiddo the proper way to ask for something and the correct response to any gift, compliment or otherwise kind act.
Of course, gratitude is more than good manners. It’s a way of viewing the world, a focus on the positive things, an attitude of appreciation for the blessings God gives us, both large and small.
And that’s exactly what I remember when my three-year-old reminds ME to say “please,” “thank you” and the occasional “excuse me.” At least she’s learning, right?
I don’t actually need help remembering my manners, despite her love of telling me to say “thank you” at the same moment she’s handing me something or giving me a kiss.
[Could it be that she feels as over-reminded and, let’s be honest, nagged as I do when she plays that little game? Hmmm…a question for another post!]
But while I am well-versed in saying “please” and “thank you” when it comes to pass the potatoes or give Mommy the Sharpie pen now, I probably could use a reminder to be truly thankful for everything God has given me.
Sometimes it’s easy to be thankful. From finding a good parking space to a baby who finally sleeps through the night, some things are pretty much gratitude givens.
Other times, it’s difficult or even impossible to be thankful. Losing a job, being hurt by a friend or hearing a scary diagnosis can threaten even the most appreciative person’s grateful spirit.
And sometimes, I’m learning, it’s not so hard to say “thank you,” but it’s another thing altogether to actually feel true gratitude.
Every night before bedtime, I hold my little girl in my lap and we say prayers. Most nights, along with “Please keep Daddy safe at work and help us sleep all night long,” I say, “Thank you for a house to live in and food to eat.”
Easy for a mom to say. Not so easy to believe it and live it.
Honestly, it’s hard to hang on to my gratitude for a house to live in when said house is actually one we’d love to sell but can’t. (A common problem these days, I know.) From a crumbling front porch and peeling varnish on the hardwood floors to a dryer that electrocutes me daily and pipes that back up if we so much as flush a Kleenex, our tiny house is falling apart.
But it’s our home. It’s a house to live in. Even if our ice maker doesn’t work and the crawl space floods every few months, it’s a home. It’s our home.
And I’m thankful for it. I just might need a reminder now and then.
Speaking of reminders: Don’t forget to design a Christmas card for a a child in Ecuador. The amazing project that Dayspring and Compassion have created will be complete on November 29. It takes just a few minutes of your day, and it will mean the world to a special kiddo in Ecuador.
What do you find it difficult to be truly thankful for? How do you encourage your family – or yourself – to be thankful for all things?Leave a Comment
Gratitude and a Child’s Prayer — Giving Up on Perfect says
[…] To read the rest of my post, please visit (in)courage! […]
God used Nancy L. DeMoss’ book “Choosing Gratitude” to change my life and prepare me for a major bump in the road that we were going to face. I would call it a “MUST READ”!
I really needed to read this today Mary! Beautifully written! You are so right…gratitude is a whole other ball game! Thank you for this reminder!
Living the Balanced Life says
Ah, yes, it is easy to get caught up in our issues with our blessings! One solution to that is go see what others have (or DON’T have!) We have taken our teens to volunteer several years to a small poor Kentucky town. We helped build a new “house” on the side of a hill for a family of 5. The house was 14×40. They were SO excited. Their old home was a trailer that the floor was falling in. No insulation, old gas heater, plumbing that sometime worked. They have even had snakes come up through the holes in the floor.
After visiting there, I don’t feel so bad that I STILL don’t have molding up around my ceilings, or that the stone has not been stacked for my fireplace. I have a house that keeps me safe from critters, is warm and dry, and has been my home for 21 years.
It’s all a matter of perspective…
There is a growing movement of parents who are refusing to teach their children these manners – to say please, thank you, you’re welcome. They think that true gratitude will come with maturity and through their own modeling, and that prompting their children to say these words does not instill true gratitude but only teaches them to mindlessly parrot the words. Food for thought? I personally teach my children these words and how to use them, I also teach them to look people in the eye when speaking to them, to hold doors for people going in/out of buildings, and pray before meals, and to serve our Lord and love each other – whether they feel like it or not.
Amy Sullivan says
Thank you for your article today!
Sometimes I forget to be truly thankful for the most important things in life; God, health, my children, and stability. Often I find myself only expressing thanks when I “get” more than I am expecting. Talk about entitled!
Laura@Life Overseas says
Such a good word, Mary, on what it means to be grateful–and how hard it is to CHOOSE that so often. We have had a disappointing year as a family– a move, to a new culture, with a lot of frustrating daily life things–not to mention the loss of friends and family. I have had so many days when I have not led my three kids well in gratitude, and it seems that when I am not choosing joy and thanksgiving, they don’t have a shot at it (they are 7, 5, 3). The mom really does set the tone for the house in many ways, I think.
We have started practicing two practical things to encourage gratitude:
1. At the table, we play a game where each person says one thing they are thankful for and quick-point at someone else, then they have to say something fast that they are grateful for, etc. It doesn’t last for long, but it does seem to break the negativity cycle.
2. Sometimes if we are having a particularly whiny day, I put a paper on the fridge. Everytime they complain/grumble, they have to go and draw or write three things they are grateful for. Again, it seems to help pull them up out of the pit. Pulls ME out, too!
Thanks, again, for this encouraging post, Mary!
I have been studied intentional gratitude recently too. How I desire to not only be aware of all that I have to be thankful for, but then also express that gratitude and act on it, too!
Thank you for this reminder today.
I Live in an Antbed says
I love the reminder to be intentional with all our thoughts, words, and actions. We, as mothers, must especially be aware that we are influencing every moment of every day.
Holley Gerth says
I love the way I can start reading a post of yours and as I go through your warm words I know quickly, “Oh, this is Mary!” Your voice, your heart, are like a hug and hot fudge sundae all rolled into one and delivered on silver platter. Sweet to the soul, girl, that’s you.
Daydream Believing and Guest Bathrooms | ohamanda.com says
[…] shared on my blog a time or two (or three) that my house is less than awesome. It’s old and small and evidence that my husband and I […]