We are fast approaching the holidays and I can say with a heavy heart that this is probably one of the hardest set of holidays I have gone through, not because I’ve lost anyone in particular this year but because I feel like we are a hurt nation right now, at odds with one another and looking for some way to fix it. It’s not just about someone leading us, like a parent leads their child through a store. This is about opening our ears and our arms and cultivating even more love to spread to others. We need to go beyond just hearing and really listen to one other with open hearts. This season, I’m about giving thanks and giving presents to our children and friends that cannot be bought. It’s about starting with those close to us and using that to reach out further.
Sometimes it’s not enough to sit down at the dinner table and simply ask what the day was like. You have to dig deep, look each other in the eyes, and listen. Listen when your child tells you they had a hard day because they got a paper cut. Because, at that moment in time, that is the biggest concern your child has. He or she needs you. They need you to say, “it’s okay” and kiss their owie away. We as the grown-ups need to extend one another this same courtesy and hear each other and be brave enough to say “It’s okay. I may not agree, but I hear you.” Without that, we are losing ourselves.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where we sit down and reflect.
We reflect and give thanks for what we have. I’m so blessed to have what I do. A house. Warm food. Loving kids. A husband who supports me. I am so grateful for that. However, I want to give my kids presents this year.
- I want to give them the present of thankfulness. I want them to understand how lucky we are to live in a country where we have the freedom to rise up from nothing and become something. Someone. We all need to step back and be thankful. Help someone else find their way if they can’t. Show thanks. Start with giving “the wave” when someone lets you merge or make a turn into busy traffic. Buy someone a coffee. Give back and be thankful you can.
- I want to give them present of compassion. I want them to feel for their peers and see how they can help. Not only be a shoulder to lean on, but a friend to count on. Teaching them to see the people who are easily missed, the ones who are often missed, and move toward them. What can we do to forge relationships? Is it make dinner? Invite them to our house? Listen to them in their time of need. Take the time and see if they need anything. Yes, I’m busy, but if I’m teaching my kids to be compassionate, I can find the time to do it myself.
- I want to give my children the present of meaningfulness. They need to know how much they mean to me, and others. They’re not just “my kids.” They are human beings I am raising for the betterment of this planet. They will be on their own one day and I want them to remember they mean something. They matter. Their thoughts and opinions are just as important as anyone else’s. They also have a responsibility, as meaningful citizens, to make mindful decisions and be prepared to accept the consequences. Part of transforming kids into adults is making sure they understand the power they have to influence the world around them and to respect that power.
All these things are lofty ideas swirling in my brain that I can’t entirely make sense of. They’re all intertwined and together make a pretty picture, but you can’t have one without the other. They need to all be present in order to work. This Thanksgiving, I will try to soften my heavy heart, smile at the blessings that surround me, and give back, starting with those dearest to me.