by Doreen Hanna
Gratitude. Does the word immediately prompt a thought of what or whom you are thankful for? My first thought was how thankful I am for my cozy, warm bed that I look forward to every night. Oh, that wonderful moment when I slip under the covers and nestle my head into my pillow for a good night’s rest. My next thought turned into recalling a number of memories, pondering the spirit of generosity that led to gratitude in the lives of some of my loved ones, particularly my grandfathers.
My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Schaub, voluntarily led the music in the small church my family attended. Sunday mornings he would lead the congregation in worship, encouraging us to be thankful to the Lord for His goodness. My paternal grandfather, Grandpa Q, was a pastor of a Spanish speaking church. He was the first Hispanic pastor to have a radio program broadcast in Los Angeles, California, ministering to many who could not afford to travel to a church. It was their caring and generous hearts that prompted me and many others to be thankful for both of them.
My Grandpa and Grandma Schaub were parents to eight children and grandparents to 19 grandchildren. Grandpa found great delight in teasing his grandchildren. His attention toward each of us made us feel loved by his playfulness. I also remember the admiration people had for his carpentry skills when he charitably contributed many hours to help build a new church after the old church burned down.
My Grandpa Quintana’s full time job was working for a major grocery store chain. Because he had such a heart for the poor, he was granted all slightly damaged canned goods to distribute to those who were in need in the community.
My sister and I were the first grandchildren on the Quintana side of the family. As early as I can remember, we found ourselves in the arms of our Grandpa Q quite often when we came to visit. He lavished us with his warm hugs and sang to us quietly in Spanish. Grandma Q would call the family to the table that was filled with our favorite Mexican dishes and a stack of her homemade fresh tortillas. Cooking was truly one of her love gifts that she gave away so liberally to many. At the end of the evening when we would say our good byes, Grandpa Q would often slip some coins into my sister’s and my hands. We were ever so excited to get into the car and count our money that would soon be placed in our piggy banks. As we grew into our teens, the coins turned into dollar bills. There wasn’t a time when I looked at my growing funds that my heart wasn’t appreciative of my Grandpa’s generosity.
As I reflected upon both of my grandfathers’ charitable influences, it led me to ponder how they made a strong impression on my father. For a season of our lives, my husband, Chad, I and our girls lived in Arizona. My parents felt prompted to join us there and we all lived in the small community of Cave Creek. Upon their arrival, my father fulfilled one of his life’s dreams, “Eli’s Carpenter Shop.” He loved building design kitchen cabinets, repairing various wood built projects, and engaging his clients with good conversation and laughter. I quickly saw both of my grandfathers’ charitable spirits revealed in my dad when he saw the needs of a growing community of underprivileged families living just blocks from his shop. Soon he was going regularly to the food bank and bringing groceries to various poverty stricken families. If he saw a need that he could fix, it was in his shop for repair. I saw his love in action as one of my father’s greatest joys in life. Serving others in their hardship, seeking to bring hope and healing.
A generational spirit of giving appears to be in our family line. Today, my oldest daughter is known for providing meals for the new moms or ill mothers at her church. Kamy, my youngest, has a heart for animals. Therefore, she often keeps granola bars (for the owners), water and dog food for the homeless she sees on the streets. She loves coming home to share of the opportunity she had to give.
Gratitude prompts us to be grateful for how blessed we are. Generosity leads us to share our blessings with others. It is evident that modeling kindness, a Fruit of the Spirit, will grow in the hearts of our children and others, like my father and grandfathers have for me and my girls.
This Thanksgiving season is an opportune time to model and encourage generosity whether it is in word or deed.
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