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The Gift of Gratitude

Leaves falling, wind blowing, raindrops trickling and cold temperatures rising - all wonderful signs that the holidays are upon us. For some, this time of the year brings a sense of nostalgia and love. For others, thoughts of the various tasks to be accomplished are daunting and stressful. Indeed, the holiday season can be overwhelming, but there is no denying the sense of gratitude that permeates the atmosphere.

This time of the year tends to bring people together, allowing families to create and share wonderful memories that last a lifetime. The intentionality of thankfulness, love and gratefulness is reciprocated and felt from person to person. There is healing through unity when communities come together with the purpose of spreading joy and holiday cheer. Perhaps this is one of the reasons suicide rates decline significantly during the winter season, December having the lowest rate, according to a John Hopkins Medicine study (2019).

Although great things come about during this season, there are hurdles to overcome. While children anticipate and expect gifts and gatherings, parents carry the burden of meeting these expectations. This can place parents in a state of subjectivity to people, lists and finances. They can become so consumed with buying presents that they forget to be present. When the focal point becomes buying the latest gadget, toys, shoes, or clothes for our children, the true meaning of the season is convoluted. While material things are fun, aiming to give children gifts that last longer and that make a greater impact is a worthy goal.

The holiday season is a great time to reflect on all that there is to be thankful for. As families make plans to gather and spend quality time around a good meal, it is a great opportunity to teach children to value people, relationships, and communities. Expressing gratitude for all that has been given helps to cultivate a more positive outlook in life. Though far from perfect, we live in a nation that offers plenty of opportunities. These opportunities should not be taken for granted, but embraced and respected.

In order to raise children who will make a positive impact in this world, we must teach them to adopt a gratitude mindset. To teach this, we must first walk in it ourselves. Gratitude is more than a feeling. It is also a mindset and a practice, which makes for a wonderful gift to share. Although gratitude is already present, there is always room for more of it in the world.

Gratitude is a powerful force that has the ability to transform lives. Gratitude is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.’ Raising a generation that is not entitled, but that understands the power of giving and of being thankful will produce good fruit. During this season, teaching our children how to give to others and how to be devoted to the hearts of others will create in them a sense of accomplishment and empathy. Research shows that grateful children tend to: be happier and more optimistic, have better social support, have better grades, be less envious and depressed, and more satisfied with their families, communities, friends and themselves (Very Well Mind, 2020).

We parents should take the opportunity to embrace gratitude even further this season. While it may be easy to get lost in the worry, stress and frustrations; focusing on being grateful is of great value. Not only will this benefit us, as we walk in gratitude; it will also touch those on the receiving end. This holiday season, make it a point to give children a gift that will last a lifetime -- the gift of gratitude. Till next time..

Your Mommy- Friend,

Denize Verduzco

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