Back in May, my Mom gave me the book 1000 Gifts by Ann Vaskamp. Although the book itself wasn’t my favorite (she has a really unique writing style), I LOVED the idea of recording what I am thankful for. The thing is that it is not just what I am thankful for, but finding the little things TO BE thankful for. Like the wind in the trees. The moment of weeping with my husband that leads to that tear-covered kiss at the end of an argument. The sound of the pavement smacking against my running shoes. Those LITTLE things that explode with beauty once we start to think about them.
This summer, I had a class of 17 students who had just graduated from Kindergarten (6-7 yrs old). These students come from fairly privelaged backgrounds wealth-wise. They have TVs in their bedrooms, their own iPads, their own pools in the backyard, more American girl dolls than I could have dreamt about at their age, every Skylander in the book, every Pokeman card that could wish for, McDonald’s when they ask for it, their own bedrooms in a household of 6, etc. etc.
Yet they don’t know the art of thankfulness. I can’t say that I knew it at that age, either, but these students to me were in a bad way in the realm of thankfulness for things. They have a very entitled attitude that comes with their family background, and this generational way of thinking. Even as Christians, their parents seem to teach them that they are entitled to everything. God loves you, so He will give you what you want/need. We (as parents) love you so we will give you what you want. You deserve to get what you want. You deserve the whole world.
And while I believe this, I have reservations about teaching our children this. I believe that children NEED to hear “You is smart, you is important”. I believe that children need to be built up in a positive way; a way that gives them self-confidence and a respect for themselves. But I also believe that children need to be told they are sinners. That they sin. And that there is nothing that they can do about it.
Anyways, back to the whole thankful thing. Starting at the beginning of the summer, every day I would sit down with the kids and have devotions. Part of devotions was that they had to say one thing they were thankful for that day. At the beginning of the summer, I got a lot of these answers:
Me: What are you thankful for today?
Student: The world.
Me: Oh, why are you thankful for the world?
Student: Because we live on it.
After a few days, I would try to prompt more out of them. “What is your favorite part of the world?” Or “Why do you think we live on the world?”
It was a great exercise for me in thankfulness, and I think that the students actually enjoyed it. They would fling their hands up in the air at devotions time faster than I could say “what are you thankful for?”
Here is our list:
2. My Mom and Dad
4. My Family
5. Trees so that we can breath
6. That God takes care of us
7. Mrs. Suzanne
8. The world
11. My Cousins
12. Chairs so that we can sit on them
13. Our class
14. Dandelions for blowing and eating
15. That we are all unique
16. Jesus- that he died for us
17. Not getting sick yesterday
18. My Grandma’s life
19. Emily is back from vacation!
20. Owen because he is my friend and he helps me get through stuff
21. The sunshine
22. The pool is open!
23. That I know 9×5
24. My dog because he helps to take care of us
25. That our Moms and Dads got married and had us
27. That Maggie was born
28. High heels
29. BCLC (our school)
30. Baseball shoes
31. Our noses so that we can breath and smell
32. That we live on earth
33. The birds that sing in the morning
34. The ice truck came to school today!
35. Blue flowers
36. Our eyes so we can see our friends
37. Bike day
38. Cows that make milk
39. Legs to ride our bikes
40. Rain to water the flowers
41. Houses to live in
42. Tress that give us food- like apples
43. The 50 states because we live in them
44. Sadie my friend
47. Baseball bats
49. Teeth so we can chew
51. Giraffes because we can ride them (????)
53. The parade on Thursday (for 4th of July)
54. The weekend at my lakehouse
55. Folding origami
56.That I can see colors
58. Safety in the big storm last night
59. Despicable Me 2
60. Kentucky fireworks
61. Black labs
63. Heaven because my dog went their this weekend
64. Our food, especially chicken tenders
66. Books like The Magic Tree House
67. Restaurants especially Sonic
68. The Air Force (we live right next to a base; most parents work on base)
69. The Bible
70. Air conditioning
71. Ears that we can hear
77. That we get to go to the pool
78. That we get to go to church
80. The Army
81. That Jesus was born
83. That God is the best God ever
84. Light so we can see
85. The ground
87. Books to read
88. Being able to hear voices
89. Sunscreen so that I don’t get sunburnt
90. Coloring books so we can color
91. iPads because I love electronics
93. Electricity after the storm
95. Tomato Soup
96. Chocolate Ice Cream
97. War that protects our country
98. Hoses that spray water
99. Justin Beiber
I’ll leave you with that for now! Isn’t that beautiful that these students found SO MANY things to be thankful for??? And I LOVE their perspectives!