It wasn't until fairly recently that I began to question the basic premise of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Like most other points of World history, it has been whitewashed and otherwise sanitized into a more palatable and easily digestible narrative for general consumption. What a great way to teach young children about cooperation and sharing without traumatizing them with the realistic concepts of genocide, Manifest Destiny, colonialism, and Eurocentrism. #sarcasm!
In any case, despite its misleading beginnings, this blog is not about the blatantly falsified set of historical facts we have all learned through our years of sitting in compulsory Social Studies classes in school. It is, however, about the actual name of the holiday - Thanks Giving.
This year we have an eight-year-old who seems perpetually discontented, displeased, annoyed, and frustrated. This kids' rotten mood tends to hover wherever he has been within the Center, infecting those who are also in the room.
Several weeks ago, after taking the kids' temp at the door and noting it in our COVID log, I asked if they would consider a daily exercise with me before joining any other activity. They agreed. I quickly explained the idea of gratitude. How positive circumstances are attracted to positive emotion in the same way that negative is drawn to negative.
They seemed to grasp the concept. I then asked them to name two things that they were thankful for right at that moment. They struggled. I asked if they would like some examples. They nodded - so I started to list several things that I was grateful for that day - before I got to the third item on my list, they interrupted with one of their own. After they gave two, I said, "OK, this is fantastic. We can do this every day as you come in. We will post it right here on the cork board hanging next to my desk and call it your gratitude list." They interrupted me again, before I could finish - asking if they could name a third thing. To which I responded, "of course!"
Has this exercise worked entirely? No - this child is still pretty gloomy a good portion of the time. Nevertheless, they are more cognizant of that mood and its effect on others when gently brought to their attention. And in doing so, we can often elicit a few giggles.
I have discovered over my 57 years, and through lengthy periods of my own doom and gloom, that thankfulness and gratitude are the keys to contentment and joyfulness - those elusive emotions we try to grasp extrinsically through stuff and our expectations of others. If I can share these ideas of expressing appreciation with kids at a young age, maybe they will begin to recognize the joy found within the smallest blessings within themselves. And then share it with others. I have faith that one child at a time, who feels happiness and serenity through the act of giving thanks - we will eventually spread a new way of being in this world.
Weekly Creative Meditation
On the subject of gratitude - thank you to everyone who has contributed so far to my Facebook Birthday Fundraiser and the DRC annual Funding Appeal. You have heard us say it many times - every child deserves a safe, supportive, educational environment where they are free to be themselves within a supportive community that belongs to them. Your contributions make it possible for us to provide that place for anyone who seeks it out.
Thank you to my brother, Pete, founder of RelHemp for telling me about Linktr.ee. You can find all of DRC's important links here.
Please share the funding appeal within your network. Thank you!
And best wishes to everyone setting aside time this week to share expressions of gratitude with family and friends.