Fall is my favourite season of the year, because it is a season of renewal and reflection. I've often thought that the new year should be celebrated in the fall, as it is for Jews who celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Fall ushers in a new school year, and often a fresh start with friends and teachers. Resolutions are made to eat healthier, to be more organized, to study harder, and to get fit. It's a time for optimism. In fall's haze I often like to imagine that the snow will never come. It's a time for gratitude. It's as if the changing leaves beckon us to take in the beauty of the moment, and to stop and reflect on everything we should be grateful for.
Of course, I'm grateful for my family, my house, my kids' education, and all the freedoms and opportunities that come with living in Canada. But, what does it really mean to be grateful? If I only say I appreciate what I have, aren't those just empty words? As a parent, how can I instill a feeling of gratitude in my children?
I can start by teaching my children that other families in the world are not as fortunate as we are. I think that an important part of demonstrating gratitude means sharing with others who have less.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, my family and I will be participating in an exciting program called "World Vision Spark." It's different from any other donation program I've seen. We can actually meet a family online, get to know their stories, and find out what they really need. We will get to see exactly where our donation is going, and see it converted into a tangible gift that is needed. Once a family has received our gift, we will receive an email and a photo that shows how we have helped. We can even share our story about the family we partnered with and how it sparked a difference in our own lives.
World Vision Spark will enable my kids to put real faces to real problems, even thousands of miles away. I'm certain that this more tangible way of giving will provide my kids a lot to think about. When they meet the families and kids, I think they will learn it's not that people across the world are so different, it's that our problems are different. Lack of clean water and limited access to education are not abstract issues. They are real challenges for real people. I hope that learning about the family's needs will cause my kids to reflect upon everything they have to be grateful for. I think that my kids will be better able to understand the connection between gratitude and giving.
Donating with your family to another family across the world is literally at your fingertips. Go to www.sparkchange.ca and YMC will match donations made by YMC Members up to $1,000 CDN so your family's impact and generosity will be doubled.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.