Why Create a Thankfulness Week?
How did we get to a point where we needed to create a thankfulness week? I remember vividly. The store was filled wall to wall with LEGOs. Bins full of new pieces to choose from. A special treat for my kids. I was excited to share in their excitement as they picked out each new addition to their collection. Yet, there were no smiles. There was no excitement. There were no thank-yous. There were only complaints, whines, and demands.
“I don’t want a bucket of pieces. I want a new kit.”
“I don’t like this piece. I want that one.”
“This bucket is small. I want more than that.”
“Why can’t I have this kit?”
“You never let me have what I want.”
My blood was boiling. Embarrassed by the selfishness and entitled nature demonstrated by my children, my mind raced back to every restaurant, every activity, every playgroup, every new toy, every class, every party we had experienced. I was done trying to fill my children’s lives with surprises and gifts and activities. They had come to expect it. They were unsatisfied and ungrateful. And to be honest, so was I.
The next day we started our Thankfulness Week. As a family, we fasted from all the extras in our lives. We did not buy anything new (with the exception of normal grocery shopping). We did not go out for dinner. We did not have dessert or treats. We did not watch any movies or go to any extra activities or events. We focused on what we had not what we did not have. It was hard. It’s so easy to run through a drive-through, jump on Amazon for a quick purchase, or throw something in your cart because it’s on sale. Breaking those habits is not easy. It takes commitment, focus, and constant attention.
In the Beginning
Our kids reacted the way we expected: they complained, whined, pleaded, and bargained. They asked how many days left in our fast? They asked why over and over. And you bet they made sure we were participating as well. Yet, as the week went on, their attitudes slowly changed. They were less entitled and more content. They stopped asking for treats, movies, and new toys. If one of them forgot about our Thankfulness Week, another one would remind them. They played with toys that had been forgotten. They enjoyed meals without complaining. Surprisingly, they were getting along better than they had in months.
A Teaching Moment
We ended our week by attending a traveling event that educates others about poverty around the world. The event allowed you to choose a country and walk through different rooms while listening to an interactive story about a child. It was over 100 degrees the day we went. The event was held inside a tent/trailer combination. We were sweaty and tired, yet our kids didn’t say one begrudging word. They listened attentively, looked around cautiously. When we were finished with our interactive story, our oldest son asked, “Can we go through another?”
When we were finished, our children were allowed to choose a child to sponsor. We helped them find a child who was near their age. Sponsoring these children has been a blessing to our family. While we are assisting them financially, they are assisting us in bigger ways. We write and receive letters from our sponsored children almost monthly. They rarely ask for anything, but rather ask us if they can pray for us. They seem incredibly gracious for what they have and never complain about what they don’t. A trait I pray rubs off on my own children.
So did our Thankfulness Week fix our problem?
No. We still have days of ungratefulness and selfishness. However, we are all easily brought back to an attitude of gratitude with a simple reminder. There are more thank-yous in our home now. There are fewer why-nots as well. They are more cooperative and bickering less. Our home is a much calmer place than it was a year ago before Thankfulness Week. So, as the world continues to chase after the newest fad, my family will chase after contentment.
This post was originally written in 2019.