November 22-28, 2004




A month of gratitude

 Thankfulness conquers the darkness of ‘entitlement’


At a department store this week, my six-year-old son threw himself a two-minute pity party when I wouldn’t buy him the latest $39 fad toy he’d seen advertised on Cartoon Network.


“But Dad,” he implored, “I really really really want it.”


“Put it on your Christmas list,” I advised, glancing in the cart and mentally noting how my MasterCard was already getting a hefty workout that night paying for two pairs of children’s shoes, a pair of size 2 boots and winter clothes.


“You never buy me anything,” he sulked. I just rolled my eyes thinking of the bins, boxes, shelves, nooks and closets all around our house that hold (on good days, barely) all his toys. As a single dad who does 98 percent the cleaning, I’ve learned that keeping our place tidy takes more effort in toy management than dust management. It’s true!


In his insatiable appetite for new toys, my son displayed an attitude that seems epidemic in our culture – that the mountains of stuff he already owns mean nothing in the face of the new toys he wants. We can forgive such childish thoughts coming from, well, a six-year-old boy, but among grown-ups the entitlement mentality is pretty sad.


Writing in this week’s Christian Science Monitor, child psychologist Susan DeMersseman writes about how she helps parents instill gratitude in children. “The most important is simply being an example of appreciation for the things in our own lives,” she writes. “It can rub off. The source of gratitude can be anything - the sight of glowing cumulus clouds, our warm home, or a nice meal.”


It sounds like a good technique to help us grown-ups, too. When we take stock of what we have, we allow our gratitude to vanquish our childish sense of entitlement the way a candle conquers the darkness.


Happy Thanksgiving!


--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster

New this week:
Bible Study: Kingdom, mission and money
Here is an insightful two-week study is to help us better understand what the Kingdom of God is, and how all Christians are called to the mission of seeing God's Kingdom come 'on earth as it is in heaven'. Includes participant and leader guides available for free PDF download. From Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader: Click here for a free download.
Talking turkey about Thanksgiving :
We need a gratitude
adjustment. "There's a problem with Thanksgiving. Celebrating an "official" day--like we will on Thursday -- compartmentalizes gratitude. The truth is that gratitude is the right attitude every day." From The Lutheran magazine. (This week's Recycling Bin feature.)
Thanksgiving in a dangerous time
 "We all gather.  We gather to give thanks.  We give thanks that we have been given each other to celebrate with and to mourn, to worry with and to pray with.  We give thanks that some of us have enough to share and to truly live the meaning of the words, 'giving thanks' " In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.

 Check out 'Buy Nothing Day,' Nov. 27
The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year, and that's why the consumer-culture activists at have been promoting that Friday as "Buy Nothing Day" for 13 years now. Whether or not you jump on their radical bandwagon, Adbusters' provocative material is worth looking at for an alternative vision to the consumer economy.

Gratitude training
"It's a little ironic that the season in which we give thanks and the one in which our children are making their holiday wish lists come so close together. We try to give our children so much, but sometimes forget to give them the greatest gift, the capacity to appreciate and to feel grateful." In this stirring essay in The Christian Science Monitor, a child psychologist offers keen observations and practical advice.