Saturday, December 11, 2010

What is Gratitude Doing to Us?

Our week concluded with shopping. Okay not my favourite activity and clearly a strange place for me to begin to recognize some gratitude. The mall as I've stated in earlier postings presses my internal rage button. Utter retail contempt simmers in me during the shopping 'off season' can you imagine what happens during the holiday cram session. Most years find me plowing through the crowds like a raging bull just trying the get my family safely though the mega halls in search of another $19.99 sweater that might be perfect for Uncle Rob.

Consequently "the thought that counts" means I didn't think but you count and so I braved my sanity for you. "I hope you like smoked cheese and this tiny plastic reindeer that dispenses candy reindeer poop."

Except for the kids. I agonise over their gifts. Their lists are always a mile long, sectioned into price point and categorized by wish level. My job is to scrutinize the list, select the items that meet the balance between their  heart's desire and our pocketbook and then pick the right colour. I always feel like we are going to disappoint them.

This is where our first night of mall braving holiday shopping begins; we take the kids out to do their shopping. We separate into shopping teams and get busy. The kids shop for one another as Michael and I gently guide with suggestions and monitor them for what piques their own interest. It's a covert parenting maneuver meant to narrow down the wish list and preview the excitement in their eye when they see that "one thing they have to have." It always works because the kids are always more focused on what they would like for themselves then what they want to get their "butt face" brother or sister. This is night one.

Night two finds Michael and I out with the crowds battling to complete Christmas. Sometimes we battle the crowds, sometimes one another but we get it done. This year I'm excited for night two. Perhaps the spirit of what I witnessed on night one has bolstered my resolve.

Our kids wanted to shop, they wanted to get the perfect thing. They had ideas, They had put thought into what they wanted to get one another. Last year we dragged them through the malls, this year we ran to keep up with them. So what's changed, what has happened in the space of a single year that has altered their desire to please one another? Why is it so important that they pick out just the right thing?"

I really think it is this experiment with gratitude. In the space of a year around our dinner table we have learned about one another. We have heard straight from the source what makes each other happy. We have listened to one another, shared in a tiny bit of each other's joy. We've come to appreciate one another for what makes each of us unique.

The greatest gift I will get this year I've already received, (in a shopping mall of all places!) Our family has the desire to make one another grateful.