Just wait. You'll see.
"Look closely and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful."
What does gratitude look like? How do we teach it to our kids?
There is no better time of year than the holidays to teach children about how to be grateful. It's important to show our kids that there is more to this month than just presents. It isn't just about about receiving gifts but the magic is in the giving to others.
In our house, we talk a lot about generosity, kindness and opening our hearts to the magic of the season. Christmas is more than just Santa and his reindeer, and Hannukah is more than lighting candles and receiving a toy for 8 days.
As a child, I was reminded of these lessons at church every week in Sunday school. Now, my kids don't attend church like I did, since we celebrate both religions. Instead, there is an immense amount of pressure on me to instill these kinds of morals and values in them myself. I often worry I am not doing enough.
So, my husband and I make a point to have regular conversations in our house about gratitude, kindness as well as how we should be treating one another. This holiday season, I feel like we are on track, especially as this is my third holiday being sober. Sobriety helps me in the parenting department, because I am more attuned to their needs. We are focused on our kid's behavior and we aren't spending our weekends hungover, ignoring them like we otherwise used to do.
These last few weeks, I have had many examples of vulnerability and gratitude to draw from and talk about with my kids, relating to my book launch and how my overall story has been received by friends, family and the community in general. Using real life examples that I have experienced as an adult and sharing about things I have learned is one of the best ways to teach my kids about how to be true to themselves.
Talking to my children about how I am giving back to those that are struggling with alcohol, by continuing to tell my story, allows my children to see that I am giving to others this holiday season, in a unique and special way. I am using my sobriety to spread my message and inspire others who may be suffering from alcohol use disorder, just as I was for so many years. By being authentic and vulnerable, I am able to help others. You don't always have to give physical gifts or donate money.
I want my kids to know they can give the gift of friendship. The gift of kindness. The gift of authenticity. The gift of simply being themselves.
I want my children to know that when you give to others, it not only makes you feel good about yourself, but it also evokes happiness from within. True joy. There is also a psychological benefit to simply just being kind and nice to others. Giving and kindness promotes social connection with others that you can't find anywhere else.
So ultimately, doing something kind for someone and giving to others evokes gratitude from within. Gratitude is again, the essence of joy.
And while not everyday in December is going to be a perfect, happy day for all of us, we must continue to forge ahead, even on the crappy ones. We will continue to search for those moments of gratitude and joy though - even after the holiday season ends, because we must continue to lead with kindness and compassion all year round.
I will keep sharing my story of sobriety well into 2023, because I know it helps others and brings me joy. Every time I hear from a reader that they feel a little less isolated after reading about my journey to sobriety, I feel a little more grateful for my ability to tell my story and be so vulnerable with the world.