It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy
James was an anomaly at school. Most of the students came from upper to middle class backgrounds. James lived in a shelter with his mother, where nutritious meals and restful sleep were scarce. Every morning expensive cars lined the front of the school as parents dropped off their children. James commuted one-and-a-half hours by bus.
Winter approached, yet James still wore t-shirts. One day his teacher gave him a sports jacket she had picked up from her church. It was a kind gesture, but a Sixth Grader with a sports jacket in a public school meant one thing – a target for bullies. James wasn’t embarrassed by wearing a jacket a few sizes too big; instead, he was smiling from ear to ear. He would often say to people, “check out this cool jacket my teacher gave me, I love it. I can’t stop thanking her”. James stood in the school hallway wearing an oversized sports jacket, tired, hungry – but still expressing gratitude. Many other students wore the latest trends, slept in comfortable beds, were well-fed – and yet wanted more.
Becoming a grateful person takes a prolonged, consistent effort. But the best time to start practising gratitude is when you’re young. An amazing opportunity stands before us to help shape the lives of our children as they grow into adults of the future. The Bible teaches us to be “thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18). The Bible also teaches us to bring up our children in the way they should go, and when they are older, they will not depart from that way (Prov 22:6). These instructions are good to consider, but how do we teach our children and ourselves to be thankful, and show gratitude to others. I think schools can play a vital role – especially since it only takes a few minutes a day. Gratitude serves a school’s educational mission while also tending to students’ social and emotional needs.
Who are you going to Thank this National Day of Thanks on Saturday 25th May?
Robert J Burman
Coordinator – National Day of Thanks