Giving Makes Us Happy

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Last Sunday we got cozy with some quilts from my home and read the story The Quiltmaker’s Gift and I asked the kids “why is this a good story for Thanksgiving weekend?”

Answers they had:

  • It’s about being happy with what you have and not always wanting more
  • It’s about how the best things in life, the things you should be grateful for, are people and not stuff
  • Sometimes when you have too much stuff you can’t appreciate it because it’s more than one person can ever play with
  • Giving things away makes us happy

 

They’re right, aren’t they? So many of us already have too much stuff, and the quest to get more doesn’t make us happier. Money can’t buy happiness … or can it? The Middle School group is exploring the topic of money this fall, and they recently watched a TED Talk about “How to Buy Happiness“. Researcher Michael Norton found that one reliable way money could increase people’s happiness was if they spent it on other people – if they gave it away as a gift.

Here we are, entering the holiday season when gift-giving is a huge affair. And yet young children are most often only the receivers of gifts, not the givers. How can we bring a practice of Giving into our holidays? A few ideas:

 

May our holiday season sparkle with kindness and giving, and may our spirits be lifted in the process.

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Re-Thinking Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving this week! Here is our congregational group at the county Food Bank last Saturday, volunteering to help pack Thanksgiving Dinners. Hundreds of Dinners are handed out each year by the Food Bank.

There are so many lovely aspects of this holiday – being Thankful and Grateful for what you have, a simple celebration of abundance and harvest and family and friends that has resisted over-commercialism.

But it’s also important to re-think this holiday and the way we teach about it and celebrate it in light of colonialism and on-going racism.

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Last Sunday, our Religious Education classes started a conversation about others ways to think about Thanksgiving.

Our youngest children (preschool-Kindergarten) had the story The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell. In a gentle way, this story raises questions about hospitality, immigration, and what this holiday really celebrates (and who it “belongs” to).

In our Labyrinth Learning class for 1st-5th graders, we watched two videos showing Native American perspectives on Thanksgiving, one from Teen Vogue  and another from AJ+.

I encourage you to continue this conversation this week with your families. Yes, celebrate Gratitude and be thankful for the abundance we experience. Yes, remember those who are in need through service and generous giving. And also continue this conversation about colonialism and racism in our society.

Resources to Help You:

 

And you can also use that gathering of friends and family around the table to engage in a conversation about racism. This video gives tips for talking about Black Lives Matter with white family and friends, and this script for talking about racism with family was written for Asian Americans but there are good tips there for other races and ethnicities as well.

Wishing you all a Blessed Thanksgiving.

A healing congregation

The theme for November is Healing, and so yesterday in the elementary grades class we had our wonderful volunteer Parish Nurse in as a guest speaker, explaining what she does as parish nurse for our congregation. Following that conversation, the kids made Get Well Soon cards that we will send to congregants who are ill in the future.

A lovely and sweet project!

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