Uri Shulevitz is a favorite author of mine. Short on copy. Long on meaning. Enhanced with magnificent illustrations. In true Shulevitz fashion, “The Treasure” starts simply, on a blank page, with just these words: “There once was a man and his name was Isaac.”
Isaac was a poor man who was often hungry. In a dream, a voice told him to look for a treasure under a bridge in the big city. He walked and walked to get there, only to meet a guard who laughed at him and told him to go home, because he would just as likely find a treasure under the stove in his own house.
When he got home, he did find treasure, under his own stove. Isaac was so grateful that he built a house of prayer, in the corner of which he inscribed: “Sometimes one must travel far to discover what is near.”
Age range: 6-9
We all hear so much about gratitude these days – on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, in blog posts, in bestsellers. Contentment or being happy with one’s portion (same’ach b’chelko) begins with understanding that how you approach life creates your happiness.
PJ Library quotes Ben Zoma from Pirkei Avot saying “Who is rich? The one who is happy with what he has.”
As parents, our job is to help our children appreciate “what’s good in their lives – from the beauty of nature, to the generosity of friends, to the taste of good food.”
So many of us are blessed with plenty to eat that it’s easy to forget how many families struggle to put a meal on the table. This is especially true during the summer when children can’t get free breakfasts and lunches at school.
You can start a regular journey of visiting your local food pantry, either culling from your own shelves or making a grocery run. In either case, invite each child to choose three or four or five (whatever number is comfortable for you) cans or boxes or veggies to donate to other families. If this is your first time going to the food bank, you might want to call to ask what they need.
When our girls were younger, we started a new tradition at dinner where everyone offered something good that had happened that day. By starting with one thing that was good, we discovered that the tone of the whole mealtime changed. In fact, most of us were already thinking about which one good thing to share when we sat down!
After that, we were all free to share the parts that didn’t go as well as we liked, too.
Even if you can’t be face-to-face with your grands as often as you like, you can start phone or Skype conversations with “what’s the best thing that happened to you today?”
In what ways have you shared the idea of happiness with your child?
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