“He’s a lucky boy.” Mrs. LIAYF said to me, as we both were glancing over at our son who was animatedly ‘putting out a fire’ in his play area.
It was one of those grounding moments. You know, the kind that makes you take pause and recalibrate your mindset once again. I, as I suspect most people do, need that every so often. That’s because as much as I get caught up in the daily list of tasks, together with my beautiful wife, of keeping the hamster that is life racing steadfastly along its wheel, it’s necessary to stop every so often and take stock of how fortunate we actually are.
Given where we live we don’t have to look far to see people who, on the surface at least, are doing quite well for themselves. We are surrounded by them. They drive very expensive vehicles, live in huge houses, dress in the latest fashions, and carry the latest gear. And although we are far from acheiving such luxuries, it is extremely easy to fall into a mindset of striving to be in a position to provide the very best things for our family. It’s a natural goal that I’m sure most of us share. We want the best for those we love. However, it can be easy during all the striving for something better, to briefly lose focus of exactly what you already have.
But moments like the one I described above serve as a necessary anchor for me. Our son IS extremely lucky. And so are we. Yes, my wife and I both work very hard to provide the security that we have. But the fact that we can, and that we live in a place and a time where it is possible to do so, puts us in the smallest of minorities when compared to the world’s present and previous populations.
The fact is that we both have good jobs, live in a house that we own, eat fresh and healthy food, drink clean water, and have access to quality education and endless resources to make our lives full and enriching is something that an amazingly small percentage of the world’s population can similarly claim. Sure, there will always be those around us who will have different things, better things, which if we had would make our lives even easier. But, occasionally stopping to take inventory of what you do have can remind you of just how good you have it, especially compared to those in the world who are really struggling.
It’s also times like these when Mrs. LIAYF and I once again re-evaluate what we can do to help those who are in real need of a bit of help. We believe that is important. And we want our son to understand and believe that as well. No matter what our budget is, and it has fluctuated quite a bit in recent years, we always build into it a line item for charitable giving. Some years it is not much, while others we can afford a bit more.
This is an example we believe is important to set for our 3 year old son. For his first 3 birthday’s we have asked that those attending bring diapers in lieu of gifts, so that we can donate them to a local diaper bank. We have involved him in the harvesting of excess fruit from our plum tree for our local food bank. And we make donations in his name a part of special occasion gift giving.
And now that he is old enough to understand, we plan to have him help choose which causes our financial donations will support. And along the way build a clear understanding of why it is imperative that we do so. All tolled, our contributions are not much. They should be more. We will give more as the means become available.
But we want our son to grow up with a solid understanding of how lucky he really is. With a true perspective of his place in a world of limited resources.
It is one of the most valuable gifts we can give him.