Earlier this year, my Certain Little Someone struggled – as we all do occasionally – with the little monster of materialism (otherwise known as “the gimmies”). Those toy company marketers really know what they’re doing, don’t they?! With every toy he received, there was a little slip of paper, brightly colored and filled with pictures of even more wonderful and amazing toys that he suddenly simply had to have. No trip to the store was complete without a stop by the toy section, followed by polite (or not-so-polite) requests to purchase this, that, or the other wonderful amazing toy. The denial of said polite request was usually followed by much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Frankly, I was getting sick and tired of the constant begging for this that and the other amazing toy that he simply could not live without. I couldn’t seem to get him to understand how richly blessed he was: whenever I pointed out how many awesome Cars characters he had at home, he could always give me another lengthy list of the Cars characters he did not have.
It struck me one day that the antidote to envy, greed and discontent was gratitude. And that the only way to eliminate a bad habit was to replace it with a good one. That thought process led to a simple but effective practice that continues several months later with great success.
All I did was ask him every morning at breakfast to thank Jesus for one thing in his life (besides the food in front of him). Already being in the habit of thanking Jesus for his food, it was easy enough to add one more “thank you” into his little breakfast prayer, although to be honest, he balked at it the first few days. My only condition was that it had to be something different from the day before, and something specific. Not just “I’m thankful for my toys”, but “I’m thankful for my Thomas trains”. Sometimes, he’s just thankful for the beautiful day (which is particularly touching when I consider it to be a rainy, dreary day!), and that’s OK. As long as he’s expressing gratefulness in an appropriate manner, the mission has been accomplished.
After a few weeks of diligently practicing gratefulness every morning, it dawned on me that we had experienced little to no episodes of “the gimmies” during that period of time. Maybe a little bit of whining when we left the toy section once or twice, but no begging for this that or the other wonderful amazing toy, and no lengthy lists of the Cars characters he did not have.
them with “I already have” and “Thank you”. So as I celebrate Thanksgiving with my wonderful family, I am indeed grateful for God’s many blessings on my life, not the least of which is you! I hope you also have a very Happy Thanksgiving – made happy not by your circumstances but by your gratefulness.
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