Reclaim Compassion: Put "Thanks" Back Into Thanksgiving

 
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Yesterday I opened my mail and discovered three invitations to give money to an organization which feeds the hungry.  Sadly, I threw all of them away.  I wondered if my compassion was turning to cynicism because I just can’t keep up with the constant demands for my finances, time and attention.

I BEGAN TO THINK ABOUT THE CHALLENGE OF RAISING COMPASSIONATE CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN IN OUR GLOBALLY CONNECTED WORLD.

I realize that with near immediate access to the crisis’ around the world, our hearts and pocketbook can become compassion weary.

I’d like to share one practical tool that we used as a family to help our children develop the deep roots of the compassion and generosity.  It follows the 3 step learning process:

  1. Exposure: build awareness
  2. Experience: create an opportunity to go beyond head knowledge into an experience that is memorable, challenging and character building.
  3. Action: do something that comes as a natural result of the exposure and experience.

OUR PRACTICAL TOOL FOR THANKSGIVING

The Rice dinner!

  • The idea is to build awareness and compassion for the over 1/3 of the world who goes to bed hungry each night.  
  • The night before Thanksgiving, our dinner consists of a small bowl of rice and green tea.
  • We also choose an impoverished country to research and report upon, increasing our awareness and compassion for the people groups within that nation. *
  • At the end of the reports, we choose a country and make a donation to a charitable organization that operates within it.

IT’S SO SIMPLE BUT IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN DEVELOPING COMPASSION AND CHARACTER IN OUR CHILDREN–A VERY VALUABLE PART OF RAISING GLOBALLY MINDED CITIZENS!

*If your children are too young to do the research, it’s helpful to have the research already done for several countries and pass them out for each person to read, or even to go through each one all together.

EXPANDING THE RIPPLE EFFECT:

We liked to include other people in our Thanksgiving Eve Tradition:

Sometimes we invited our neighbors to participate with us.  A couple of times the children worked together to do a food drive and then collected the food neighbors brought in as they walked in the door.  We went together to the food bank to deliver the food as well as give several hours of our time to help stock the shelves.

At times we invited our community group to participate with us.  Everyone chose a country when they walked in the door.  They sat together for dinner (on the floor, of course!), as they researched their country.  After the delicious dinner, each country group gave their report.  After each country had been highlighted, we took suggestions for a way to give back and took up a donation to give to an organization making a difference in that country!

Occasionally, I invited the church I was serving to participate.  We followed the same process as for the community group, but we didn’t have any idea how many people would attend.  The cooks naturally worried about having enough food, but I assured them that whatever we had would be adequate.  Well, a couple of time we ran out of food and some of the attendees went without rice, or others shared their small bowl, making it even lighter.  Another great learning. . . how often does this happen in the real world?

I am sure you can come up with even better ideas, but the big idea is to this:  DO SOMETHING!  

A great idea that is not implemented remains just that:  a great idea.  But, an average idea that is acted upon can become a diamond in the rough, or a canvass transformed into a beautiful picture.

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO RECLAIM THE HOLIDAYS THIS YEAR?

Take a step towards reclaiming the experience God designed for you…and experience the joy of Compassion Reclaimed.

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Tamara BuchanComment