During November, in honor of Thanksgiving, it seems quite popular to engage in the “Gratitude project,” an online movement in which participants express appreciation each day for something or someone different. It’s a cool idea, since most of us spend our days so busily moving through life that we do not stop and reflect on what we might be taking for granted. Unfortunately, I wasn’t organized early enough this month for a daily devotion, but I wanted to post this one reflection in time for Thanksgiving.
Near the top of many of my friends’ gratitude lists are their children. Even if we might sometimes be frustrated or overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenting, children clearly bring love and joy to their parents, and interactions with them can be rewarding and educational. So, I wanted to express gratitude for my own children, and in particular what my 8-year-old daughter Clara learned and taught others through a cause she took on this year.
This past summer, Clara demonstrated her persistence (which, sometimes, let’s be honest – I’m less than grateful for) and her compassion when she committed herself to raise money to help dolphins. Not just any dolphins, though. She — like millions of other kids, I’m sure — was inspired by the story of Winter the dolphin, the real-life star of Disney’s Dolphin Tale, who lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
She brought home library books about endangered dolphins. She drew endless pictures of dolphins. And, as her birthday approached, she began planning a dolphin-themed party turned fundraiser (she asked for donations in lieu of gifts). Her grandma joined in the effort, throwing a second party/fundraiser on Clara’s behalf. Earnings from lemonade sales and extra chores were added to the party proceeds, and before you knew it, Clara had $434 for Winter and the aquarium.
As luck would have it, we were headed to Florida for a family vacation, so planned a side excursion to Clearwater so that Clara could deliver her donation in person. What a surprise was waiting! By calling ahead to inform the aquarium of our plans, we were met by the Director of Development, given a mini backstage tour, and treated to a poolside photo with one of Winter’s fellow dolphins.