Monday, October 14, 2013

Learning to give thanks—Carolyn R. Wilker

Traditionally, Thanksgiving has marked thankfulness to God for plentiful harvests and has included feasting, prayer and thankfulness for the blessings received in the past year. 

Living on a farm in a rural Ontario, my family did all of the above on such a day— attended worship and gave thanks. Later we’d have a big dinner with family and friends. Sometimes it was just our own family, but it was always a good meal—a capon, potatoes, vegetables, salad, some of our pickles from the summer canning, and dessert too, probably a pie or two.

It’s not hard to give thanks, surrounded by so much good food and bounty, but what if I hadn’t learned to be thankful? What if I had come to feel that all this was mine for the taking? 

Giving thanks is not in a young child’s nature; it’s something we teach through words and actions, just as we teach them to say “please” and “thank you.”  

In Sunday School, our teachers taught thankfulness through our lessons and song as well. We sang “Count your blessings,” written by Johnson Oatman, Junior:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

I guess my Mom had sung it enough in her Sunday School that the opening line became a mantra in our home. We’d hear it often, but just because we sang that hymn, and others, did not mean we always remembered to show appreciation for what we had. 

When Mom was a member of the Women’s Institute, we had a picture posted on the door of our refrigerator of a child in Korea. The group sponsored this girl for a time, and Mom would tell us how their contribution helped provide good food and an education for her.

I could see that we had food and to spare, especially in summer. We had clothing enough, but not a full closet, and always warm winter coats and boots when we needed them. We had toys, a television, and we were able to go to school.

Over time, I learned from lessons such as this and watched my parents show generosity as they were able—sharing from the abundance of our garden, helping with community projects with some of their time and energy. And so I have learned to be thankful and share from what I have been given— time, energy and resources.

I know I have often forgotten to say thank you to others and to God. Thanksgiving is a life-long lesson, I guess, for I’m still learning. My grandchildren are learning to see beyond themselves too, and to say “thank you” too, and for that I am glad.

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving!

Carolyn R. Wilker, author, editor and storyteller


Peter Black said...

Thanks you Carolyn, for your delightful Thanksgiving focus and growing-up reflections.
Although I wasn't raised on a farm, there are many aspects of your family life, of sharing garden produce and hospitality and being taught gratitude, that parallel my upbringing.
Blessings be multiplied to you and your family and your readers. ~~+~~

Donna Mann said...

Carolyn - your experience resonates with my childhood memories. Nice to be reminded of them. Thanks for sharing. D.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you, Peter, for your faithful comments on my post and many others. I appreciate reading them each time.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Donna, it seems we had some similar experiences. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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