“Mommy, are we going have a cry fest this year?” my sweet son Jude said.
Thrilled with delight, my reply was, “YES.”
Every year our family sets aside time for something we call a “cry fest,” in which we each share what we are thankful for in each family member and the Lord. Because we involve everyone in the family, including Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings, it usually takes a while.
Our time usually begins light-hearted and full of laughter, but eventually our expressions of thankfulness go deeper and we begin to cry, hence the name. There is something powerful about those who know you best looking you in the eye and saying your qualities for which they are thankful.
Every year, we are able to refocus and remember why we do what we do and Who we are doing it for. It’s an opportunity to breathe life into our family. Even though some of the less vocal members of the family say they dread it every year, they are usually the first ones to cry. This special time has kept our family unit strong.
Over the years my oldest children have said a few things when it’s their turn, such as “I’m thankful for Jesus” or “Mommy, I’m thankful for you,” clear indicators of their young age. But in the last year or two we have seen a shift in their desire to play a part in our cry fest.
One of the major reasons for discipline in our home is to prevent entitlement, an issue that is becoming an increasing problem among our children’s generation. When we hear an entitled sentence come out of any of our children’s mouths, we stop it and correct it immediately. We believe entitlement is the antithesis of thanksgiving. We do not tolerate it.
Our kids do not get things just because they think they should; otherwise, they would never learn what it’s like to earn it. They don’t get to opt out of cleaning their rooms just because we have someone that cleans our house; otherwise, they wouldn’t learn how to clean. They don’t get money anytime they want it from us; otherwise, they wouldn’t learn the concept of working.
We are much more concerned about their character than their pride. We are much more concerned about who we are raising them to be than who they think they are in the moment. We didn’t get anything handed to us, and they won’t either.
Harsh? Nope, smart.
They are learning lessons that are vital for the wellbeing of their future, and as they grow, we are seeing them be thankful of their own accord. We don’t have to force it. It is a natural response when you are taught things in your life must be earned, not handed to you, and the blessings in their life are a gift from God.
I looked at Jude’s blue eyes, and my heart could burst with thanksgiving, simply because his heart was eager to be thankful.
I asked him, “What are you thankful for this year?”
“You and dad and my siblings and everything that you work for.,” he said. “I know what we have is because God gave it to us and you and dad worked for it.”
I hugged him and said, “I’m thankful that you see that.”
This year, Jude will be at the adult table telling the family what he is thankful for about them. He will no doubt repeat some of what he told me, but I will return the favor and recognize him this year for his heart that lacks entitlement and rather is filled with thanksgiving.
Autumn Miles is the author of “Appointed: Your Future Starts Now” and the founder and CEO of The Blush Network, a conference ministry dedicated to spiritually challenging the way women think. Autumn is an accomplished speaker who leads women’s conferences nationwide through The Blush Network. She is also the host of “The Autumn Miles Show,” a Christian radio show on Salem Radio Network in Dallas, Texas and sits on the advisory council for the women’s ministry department at Liberty University.