Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Then, on the heels of Thanksgiving starts the busiest season of the year – the Christmas season. For me, both holidays signal a time of not just fun and family gatherings but a time of giving to those not as fortunate as I am.
Everyone has traditions for the holidays. My family and I certainly had our own while I was growing up. Most of my Thanksgivings were spent in Roanoke, VA with extended family. Two of my aunts, Aunt Mary Ann and Aunt Becky were members of a Woman’s Club that always served a Thanksgiving dinner to the less fortunate the night before Thanksgiving Day. In many ways, this set the tone for the entire Thanksgiving weekend.
This tradition of serving food to the less fortunate left an indelible impression on me. I can see that it helped to shape me and instill in me the value system I have today. It is my heart’s desire to carry on a tradition such as this with my daughter Ansley who is a week away from her first birthday. From the time she was just a little bump in my belly I have thought about how I wanted to teach her the important things in life. Reverence to God and the Earth as well as Stewardship to others are some of the core values to name a few.
Ansley was due to be born last Christmas Eve. Funny, growing up and as a young adult thinking about having my own children, the only month I thought I would never want to have a child was in December. God has his own timing I guess! Once I knew her due date was Christmas Eve, I knew I was being given an angel. So what if it would be in the month I had always said I would avoid having a baby in! Not that I really thought she would come on her due date. And, guess what? She didn’t. Ansley came a month early. She was born on Thanksgiving Day.
I don’t want to relive the details of why Ansley came early. Suffice it to say I don’t remember much of that day and didn’t get to see, touch or hold my daughter until a couple of days later. The first time I “viewed” my new daughter was on a camera. No celebratory Thanksgiving meal for me and as for my family- well, Ben and Kathleen brought it into the family waiting room and everyone except me ate there. I couldn’t even get out of the hospital bed. I have to say though that looking back I realize this last year has flown by like the speed of light. And although that particular Thanksgiving was not the most traditional Thanksgiving, I can now say it was not only the most memorable, but also the most special Thanksgiving I have ever had. I have a healthy, happy and yes – beautiful little daughter that is thriving. For this I give thanks.
I also give thanks for having the opportunity to help my stepchildren learn the importance of stewardship. Recently, my stepson, Austin had a food drive at his school. It actually lasted the entire month of October. While doing my normal weekly grocery shopping I bought items for the food drive. I got enough food to fill a grocery bag for almost every day of the food drive. At first Austin didn’t understand why in the world I would have bought so much- I took this as a teaching moment to explain about giving to the less fortunate. I talked to him about how blessed we are and that we get to pretty much eat whatever we want at our meal times. I told him that many kids throughout the world and even right here in our own city don’t sit down to regular meals. I explained to him how important it is to help others in need. Since that conversation there have been several times when Austin has talked about people in need and the other day he even reminded me about how he got so much Halloween candy while Trick-or-Treating. He asked me if he could share his candy with the less fortunate. I explained to him that it was important to provide nourishing food to those that need it. To say that his desire to give even his precious candy to others touched me would not even cover the emotions I felt during this conversation with him! Austin’s heart is in the right place. For this I give thanks.
The Christmas season was another important season of stewardship I was taught growing up. I can remember at least one year adopting a less fortunate family and giving gifts to them instead of getting many gifts for the three of us kids. Doing this in your own family might seem a bit extreme. You might even think your kids would rebel. I challenge you to try it – the outcome might surprise you. I can remember only feeling good about getting less and giving more. For this I give thanks.
I myself need to do more for others. I do know though that doing one small thing can always lead to another. I challenge anyone reading this to start a tradition of stewardship with your own children and keep it going through the entire year and then, through their entire lives. Teaching them stewardship is giving them a gift that keeps giving.
I give thanks for so much. I truly am blessed in more ways that I can begin to count. May you be as blessed.
To giving thanks. Oh, and Happy Birthday my precious daughter…
Our children are our future. We need to teach them to reach out and help others in need. Start planting the seeds of caring in your own family when your children are young. Instilling the value of stewardship never begins too soon.