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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Unexpected lessons....

The parents gather around and wait anxiously for the elevator doors to open. The "feast" has been prepared and the tables have been set. Turkey Roll ups have been delicately put together with toothpicks, centerpieces made of construction paper turkeys and balloons have been created with love. Parents get their IPhone and cameras ready to capture a picture of the sweet person they have created on this day of the feast.

The elevator doors open and to no surprise to me our son is leading the pack, always wanting to be the leader these days. He looks so precious standing in his homemade Native American headdress and costumes made from pillowcases. I want to squeeze his cheeks until they are red like a clown and run up to him and just swing him around (I sustain this urge). They carry rainmakers with such pride (and noise). I picture my husband and I looking at each other later in the night cursing this same rainmaker as he runs around the house making 'music'. But these are those moments as a parent you looked forward to one day...sharing those little preschool snippets of time with your children; in this case a thanksgiving feast.

I'm relishing in my son and loving how innocent a child is when they have just learned about Thanksgiving. I love to hear his rendition of the story.  However, in the back of my mind my heart is heavy. In a different part of the country; in my hometown of Pekin, Illinois; parents are standing around together but with distress in their hearts, IPhones are used but to snap photos of damage for the insurance companies. They aren't admiring cute art projects but rather wondering where they will sleep tonight. I imagine in the deepest part of their minds they question how or where they will celebrate Christmas and provide presents for their children.

Tornados ripped through Central Illinois and the surrounding area on Sunday. The town I grew up in hit badly and a neighboring town flattened.  My family was safe, but so many lost it all. I was coming off that high from a mini-vacation; up to Asheville and Blue Ridge. I was pumped to blog about these trips, share photos, talk about food..but it seems wrong in this moment. A place I haven't lived in for over a decade is still my home and it's suffering a loss and I feel bad that I am unable to really help.

With the timing of this disaster I decide to use it as a teachable moment as a parent.  The last few weeks I've actually been struggling with how to teach my 4- year old what it means to be 'grateful'. This is no easy task. At times he is so blissfully unaware of how lucky he is that it pushes me to insanity. Some days are just a constant "wanting". Every trip to Target includes cruising the toy aisles which then leads to a struggle when he learns he can't always have something.

But with this I will show my son what being 'thankful' looks like and means. After all, it's Thanksgiving and lord knows we have so much to be thankful for in our life. Tell him of the other little children who have suffered a big blow and how we could help them..maybe send them some toys or donate his clothes. Show him that gratefulness, gratitude, hope, community, and spirit have faces...faces of people who care and come together. 

Sure, he will wear his Native American head dress, costume and carry his rainmaker in the coming week. We will eat Turkey, take naps and enjoy our family. We will begin to write letters to Santa with our 'wish list' but I hope through showing him this awful mess that he'll see that Thanksgiving is so much more than a feast!

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