Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving thanks and giving back

Hands down the most important job I will ever have on this earth is teaching my children. And in my heart I know that one of the most important things I can teach them is the importance of giving back. But more than that the importance of being humble. The importance of being truly thankful for what we have been given in this life. The importance of wanting to leave this world a better place for having been in it. The importance of having the ability to change one person's life by our actions.

That is big. As a 32 year old those concepts are sometimes still hard for me to grasp. I don't understand how kids that go to school with mine don't get enough to eat. How a good dinner at some homes is noodles with McDonalds ketchup packets on top. That doesn't happen here. It can't. But it does. And I struggle sometimes with how to explain to my kids that not everyone has it as good as us. On one hand I want them to learn early that those people who go home hungry don't live half a world away. They live down the street from us. But on the other hand my kids have the precious gift of not knowing how unfair the world is. They can't fathom a home where a little boy doesn't have any stuffed animals because ours litter the floor in every room of the house. Who am I to tell them that the world isn't all rainbows and kittens? After all, isn't it my job to protect them?

That being said, there aren't a lot of ways that my kids can give back yet. They can't go with me to build a house for Habitat. They can't serve food at Stone Soup kitchen. But when I got involved with the Junior Auxiliary backpack program last year (kind of by accident) I found out that this was the perfect place for my kids to get involved. The program provides backpacks to kids during school breaks that are filled with breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day the kids are out of school. On our first trip to stuff backpacks I explained what we were doing. Braden asked a lot of questions and I could tell he couldn't understand the idea of not having food to eat at home. He didn't understand why their moms couldn't just go to the store and buy food like we do. I finally just told him that not everyone in the world is as blessed as us and sometimes there just isn't enough money to go around. It must have stuck because every time we stuff backpacks, he talks to me about the boys and girls that don't have enough food.

In this week of Thanksgiving, I am reminded even more how blessed my family is, but also reminded how important it is to teach my children what a blessing truly means. Blessing doesn't mean getting the happy meal toy that you wanted from McDonalds. Blessing means being safe and happy and healthy and knowing that your parents are able to take care of the things that you need in this world. Giving back can be a scary thing sometimes because it takes us to a place that we aren't willing to admit exists, but at some point it is our responsibility to take our children to that world, little by little, so that they too understand the importance of giving back.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!