Yesterday my four-year-old daughter announced that she wanted a different Halloween costume--one from the printed advertisement that she'd seen at her friend's house. "Alex got a costume from the magazine, and Claire bought one from it too. I want one! There was even a Hello Kitty." I'm sure the skeptical look I gave her was disappointing, but she'd been prancing around for two weeks in the fairy costume she'd convinced me to buy at a resale event. "Honey," I told her, "You already chose a costume. We're not buying another one." Normally I'd suggest that she do some extra chores to earn the money to buy what she suddenly fancied, but I figured the catalog she'd seen probably featured costumes that cost more than either of us wanted to pay.
"But mom, I don't like the fairy costume. It's not my favorite color! It's blue!" She said, and started to bawl. I was now thoroughly annoyed, since she'd been the one to choose it. "It's violet," I insisted in French, "And we're not spending money on another costume," I stated firmly, and headed out the back door to finish up the yard work I'd started.
Thankfully my husband was in the kitchen with our daughter and he took the conversation to a better place. He looked at her and said, "I have something important to tell you." When she looked back at him, he said quietly, "There are a lot of things out there that you'd love to have. If we keep crying to have all of those other things, we'll never be happy. God has given us a lot. We need to choose to be thankful for what He has already given us."
Of course, there are no magical words for imparting gratitude and contentment, but my daughter just stared at her dad for a moment, and then she quieted down considerably. And a few minutes later, she pushed a stool to the kitchen counter and said she wanted to help make dinner. Through the dining room window I could see the two of them chopping vegetables together at the counter, and it was a heartening sight.