The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.  —H.U. Westermayer, author

Grateful kids are different. They are certainly more fun to be around (“Thank you for my Cars fruit snacks” sounds a whole lot better than “I WANT FRUIT SNACKS!”). I read this well-spoken quote from John Templeton recently: “Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.”

But it’s the why that intrigues me. I’ve been studying gratitude lately, and though I’ve always mentally tagged it as “Very Important,” what I’ve discovered has moved gratitude into the “Essential” category—whether it draws people or not. What changed my mind, as a mom and as a Christ-follower? Thankfulness is eternally linked, I think, to humility.

Everyone can experience hard times, financial hardships that lead to scarcity. The crumbling of well laid plans for financial gain, can mean the crumbling of a way of life, of significant dreams. But as I’ve been disillusioned by some of the gains in which I’ve placed a degree of faith, I have to ask myself—did it deserve my faith in the first place?

The “American Dream,” and our values of independence can quickly transform from the godly virtues of diligence, and faith in God’s goodness to a praise of self—our ability to succeed as long as we put our mind to it which is the spiritual equivalent of, “Marvel at the power of us!”

[verse reference=”Luke 12:16-21″] And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”[/verse]

But when I studied the pilgrims who first set foot in Massachusetts with tremendous loss already a companion, I saw the degree to which they trusted God with everything they needed for life … even when He didn’t give as they expected.

Through both His miraculous provision and stark tragedy, deep thanks poured from the pilgrims dependence on God—from their worship in humility.

I want my kids to understand gratitude at that gut level, to understand that sacred place of looking to His trustworthy hands.

We have noted these things so that you might see their worth and not negligently lose what your fathers have obtained with so much hardship.   —William Bradford, pilgrim governor of Plymouth

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