Those of you who know me know that there are 2 holidays that I really love. One is Halloween and one is Thanksgiving. So, tis the season; here is a little parable I learned many years ago. I hope this helps you keep your perspective in this holiday season.
There was a man who grew wise as he grew wealthy. By the time he became a father he had amassed quite a fortune, and he wanted to make sure his children didn’t have to live the way he lived as a child. After all we all want our children to have better lives than we had, but as his son grew he realized that maybe he had been providing too much and his child’s perspective of the world was askew for never having experienced being without. He decided to send his family to live for a few days with a “poor” family in the country. When the boy returned, the father wanted to discuss the experience with the boy to be sure he appreciated his rich and plentiful life.
The father asked, “Well son, how was your stay?” The boy replied “It was Okay, I think I learned something. “What lesson did you learn son” the father asked expecting the boy to voice his appreciation of the life the man provided him. “I learned that many things are different between our home and theirs.”
The son shared, “we have a dog in the kennel, but they have 2 dogs that live in the house with them. We have a great big pool, but they have a big pond with fresh water that they swim in, I think it even has real fish in it.” The boy went on, “We have a garden in our yard that has lights at night, but they have the stars and the moon that lights their fields. Our yard has tall walls but theirs seems to go on forever. ”
The man look perplexed, this was not what he expected. The boy continued, “We fall asleep to music or the TV, but they listen to the sounds of birds and crickets at the end of their day. Our neighborhood has gates and fences, but their door is always open to friends.”
“Here we are connected by phones, intercoms, and computers, but they are connected with nature and their family.” The father sat quietly and allowed the lesson the boy taught to sink in.
The boy innocently got up to leave, but stopped to conclude, looking back he said to his father, who sat with a tear welling in his eye, “Thank you dad for allowing me to see how poor we really are.”
We do all strive to provide our children with a world free from want, full of everything they desire, and free from pain or hardship. We should always keep our perspective about how much is too much, and if what we provide is what they need. Are we providing them a life free from worry or gifting them a life free from the reality of values. Do they know hard work? Do they know the value of what is laid before them? Are they aware that there are others who have less? Others who are in need?
Before we sit and break bread over this holiday meant to give us such perspective, I urge all of us to take stock in what we do have and remember that there are so many that have so much less. Maybe for the holidays this year we could give gifts to the truly needy, at least the gift of understanding.