Working Together On Life's Issues

Appreciating Life

You must be the change that you wish to see in the world. - Ghandi

Appreciating Life

The holidays are now long over and we all can breathe a sigh of relief. The frantic searching for just the right Christmas or Chanukah presents for the “I must have; I need; I want; Get me this; Buy me that or I’ll throw a tantrum right here in this over-crowded store” crowd is finished. Presents have been purchased and opened, and some have been returned. You were probably the first in line at Toys ‘R’ Us after Christmas to return that incredible toy advertised on TV that was not so fabulous in reality. Your children are, hopefully, enjoying their gifts. Some wishes were fulfilled. There were happy faces; while others were marked with obvious disappointment.

The household is back to normal, or so you think. There will always some event which will require a present. How can you help your children to be more appreciative and to value what they are given?

Perhaps a good dose of the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” is in order. Remember Charlie? He was that wonderful, bright-eyed child who found pleasure in even the smallest of things. A cynic might conclude that he had no other choice as his single mother was the sole support for a household that included two sets of bedridden grandparents and one young boy. As a laundress, she barely earned enough money to purchase food for her family. A chocolate bar was a special treat. Sure, Charlie had wishes, hopes and dreams. These kept him focused. He was grateful for what he had.

Do you remember that bratty child, Veruka Salt, who was never satisfied? Her wealthy father could never buy her enough. He purchased truckloads of Wonka Bars so that she would have the best advantage of securing that prized ticket to win a trip inside the Wonka Chocolate Factory. Perhaps you know someone like Veruka.
These children were not born with appreciation or disdain. They were taught what was important and valued in life by their parents. Charlie valued and appreciated life. Veruka valued possessions.

This new year, start by visiting a local convalescent home or senior retirement facility. Spend some time with the residents. Many are lonely. Read a story, sing a song, or just reminisce. Involve yourself and your children in a community endeavor. Organize a canned food drive in your neighborhood and then donate your collections to a homeless shelter. Ask your children to scavenge through their rooms and donate their old toys to a day-care center, your local hospital, or orphanage. You can do your own spring cleaning early. Donate some of your belongings as well to your favorite charity. It is important to “walk the walk” if you “talk the talk.” Find out how good it feels to give of yourself.
Change the “I must have it now” attitude to a “save until affordable” approach. Turn shopping in the mall into a fun adventure. Spell out the rules in advance. Let your children prepare a budget for this trip. State your limits clearly. Then follow them!

It is important to remember that possessions are not the mark of a satisfied person. There will always be someone who has more than we do. One T-shirt saying would have you believe that “The quality of a man is the price of his toys.” What it should have stated, but it probably would not have sold, is that “The quality of a person is not measured by one’s possessions, but rather by the generosity and quality of one’s good deeds.” A gift of one’s self is by far greatest gift of all.