Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How less can cultivate gratitude

One sweltering afternoon my oldest son played a baseball game. His five family members cheered him in the stands and melted in the fresh hot of summer. One player even fainted from the heat.

After the game, my husband went to the concession stand and purchased cold ICEE drinks for all four children. Inwardly, I groaned.

I braced myself for the moans and laments that would surely come. I was ready for a snotty toned "Well, it's about time" since it was the first slushy of the season and the season was done.

I expected an immediate return to the attitude of last season. The one where they asked for an ICEE as soon as we drove into the ball park and continued pestering until it was obtained.

My husband and I would delay the purchase as long as possible. We wanted them to wait a few innings because the games were long. Yet, we did want them to have a treat because we felt sorry that they had to watch those long games.

It also seemed fair to buy the watchers a treat since the ball players received one after the game. Thus began our toleration for their pestering demands that in a different situation I don't think we would have tolerated. 

Besides, it was only a dollar. So we bought the cool drinks.

We didn't set out to buy those slushies all season long. But that's what happened.

They nagged. We bought. At Every. Single. Game. We had set up quite a system. We thought we were directing the buying of the ICEE treats.

After awhile, though, something bothered us. But it was just easier to keep walking up and buying the cold  ICEE drinks instead of evaluating the problem. 

We just wanted to watch our oldest son play baseball and keep the others happy. It didn't cross our minds  to evaluate what was annoying us.   Thankfully, during next year's ball season it would work itself out naturally.

But I didn't know that yet.

Instead, I was braced for complaints the day those purchases were made on that hot sweltering day.

The flavors were selected. The sips were taken. And the children came running to their dad, saying, "Oh, thank you Daddy!" They were thrilled and thankful for what they had.

I was surprised! Shocked!

What did they say?

Thank you?!?

For this one ICEE on the very last day that the concession stand was open? It was the only one that they got all season long. Could these be the same children who the season before had complained, whined, and even demanded ICEEs?

How could this be?


It didn't begin as a noble effort to reduce whining, complaining, or children driving demands. Instead, we simply stopped buying ICEES due to the budget. They were only a dollar. But we had four children and more than one was playing ball that season.

We saved money. Instead of us buying treats, they spent their own quarters and dimes on ring pops and nerds. It was a bargain. One season we bought an ICEE for every child at every game.

The next season we stopped. Just like that.

Yet, we had done something to cultivate gratitude without knowing it. We gave them less. They became more grateful.

It was eye-opening. It was shocking how much MORE grateful they were with LESS.

Less demand. Less expectation. More gratitude.

And so less really can cultivate an attitude of thankfulness.

When they expected to get a treat, they began to demand to get a treat. And when it became special, they were thankful.

The lesson of an Icee. When we are given less, we expect less. When we expect less, we are thankfully surprised when something is given to us. And we are grateful.

It was an amazing process. It shocked me at the time and taught me a wonderful principle about how
less can cultivate an attitude of gratefulness.

*   *   *
"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, 
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." 
Philippians 4: 12

* * *
How about you? When have you been surprised lately? Join us HERE to comment on the blog

You can also join the SDG sisterhood with Jen HERE.


  1. Oh, Kath, you are a wise woman. :-) My son and his wife have 5 children and the 'gimmes' can run rampant in that household. I imagine it runs rampant in all of us. I noticed the part about 'expectations'--when I expect nothing and get SOMEthing, boy am I grateful to God. Funny, His economy is so backwards--but it works!

  2. Thanks Jody, your words are an encouragement!

  3. Kath, this is timely for me. We are getting ready to move from a 3200 ft. home to a two-bedroom, one bath 850 ft. apartment for the next year. We will learn to live simply and frugally as we pay rent and a mortgage with 1/3 less income. Maybe we will learn some lessons on gratitude as well, myself included.

    1. Wow, Gaby, that will be challenging! I bet you will learn lessons that you will share with us all.

  4. Wow. I guess that was a nice surprise to have more gratitude with less. I'm thinking about my own situation when I've been around those less fortunate than me; it does make me appreciate the simpler things again, like a hot shower and flushing toilets. Whatever can teach us contentment, I should welcome! :) Thanks for sharing this story. And I love Icees myself; I'd probably have been the one begging for it. ha.


Thanks for being part of the conversation...I love hearing from you. Kathleen

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...