Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Lesson in Gratitude

Last week, my children came home with invitations in their backpacks. The school staff invited me to attend a Thank You Breakfast for parents who'd volunteered throughout the 2010-2011 school year.

My fifth grader spoke up on the way home later that week. "Mom, you have to go. I'm in a movie!"

My second-grade daughter shushed her brother. "You weren't supposed to tell! It was a surprise!"

This morning I attended the wonderful breakfast the school counselors had put together for the volunteers. After warmed up, pre-packaged chicken patties on biscuits and juice, we enjoyed the movie our children starred in. Multiple students, most of whom shied away  from the camera, stated their thank yous, congratulations, and I love yous. As the movie ended, the counselor came to the front to say thank you once again, leaving us with a humble parting gift of a small basket with one pencil and several peppermint candies inside.

What caught my attention more than the humbleness of the staff, who proclaimed they couldn't do it without us volunteers, was the loud jesting of some of the PTO/PTA volunteers. The joke began as just that, a simple jest. "And our brand new cars are out in the parking lot?"

Remarks came about this not being the Oprah Winfrey show. The principal of the school, in good-hearted response said we should look under our seats, and we might be lucky enough to find a piece of chewing gum.

Hearing the joke one time would have been considered funny and in good humor. But when the comment about a car came three more times throughout the presentation, it soured my grape drink. My concern for the teachers' hearts grew as their faces dropped.

 "Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death,
 Is the man who deceives his neighbor,
 And says, 'I was only joking!'"
 ~ Proverbs 26:18-19 

To someone sitting in the room, it may seem like the ladies were only joking about the car keys. However, to a parent who volunteered because she understands the need for help in today's classrooms, the subtle underlying tone sounded more like, "Your thanks isn't big enough for all I do." Words are so easily deceitful, especially when disguised and delivered as a joke. The jest became a mocking, and my heart bled for the faculty who'd gone through so much trouble to provide gratitude for all that we volunteers did.

The lesson I learned today? Gratitude often comes in the humblest forms. We need to be careful to acknowledge it, say thanks in return, and to celebrate in the opportunity we had to do good for someone else, rather than expect something large in return.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, Alycia. We think we're cute and/or funny and never realize the damage we do. Thanks for the reminder to open our eyes.


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