Pushing a cart in our local supermarket just before Hallowe’en, I followed a mother and her brokenhearted 4 year old who, crying his eyes out, sobbed over and over “but I want all of it”

Remembering Hallowe’en candy with my own children and my rather futile attempts to cajole them out of a sugary, red-dye #46 high, I wondered how she would manage a supermarket full of candy.

To my surprise, however, the crying was not about Hallowe’en but about his letters (it seems he had been dictating them for some time) to Santa, Christmas already spoiled because he was not going to get everything on his list.

Christmas comes earlier than ever each year and the tradition of giving usurped by a more prevalent custom of getting, Tshirts boasting “Dear Santa, I want it all”. As parents it can feel harder and harder to develop character that is thankful and grateful. Yet being thankful is not only relevant, but an antidote to selfishness that can foster resilience and empathy.

With holiday ads already appearing in the market place, here is an idea to change the give-me conversation to one of thankfulness. You can use a large branch, or an artificial tree and turn it into a journal. Every day until Thanksgiving, take a walk and have each person in your family choose a fall leaf. If you iron it between pieces of waxed paper and write on it something you are thankful for you can actually keep what you and your children have written from year to year.

As your beautiful family together creates a center piece for the traditional meal, you will find that you are building not only memories that will sustain your children as they grow into adulthood but an important piece of the character that will light their way.

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