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?
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.
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"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
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