In our household, the days preceding Christmas were always filled with a frenzy of planning and excitement.
Tim, our kid, had been mimicking his father Mike’s refusal to pitch in around the house and was soon abandoning his own responsibilities in the hopes that his sister Emily would take care of him.
I figured it was time to confront the problem and show them a lesson as the holidays drew near.
As I was out doing errands on a frigid evening just before Christmas, I contacted Mike and Tim. I let them know that I wanted their assistance cleaning the house in preparation for our Christmas guests.
Maintaining a spotless house for our guests was something I stressed at length.
I gave them the chore of cleaning up, vacuuming, and making sure everything was in its place.
I told them that I needed them to finish cleaning up before I went back to my house in around two hours because time was of the essence.
I sent them out to do their chores and went about my errands, trusting that they would rise to the challenge and get the house in tip-top shape for our guests.
But I was confronted with a horrifying scene upon my return home later that night. Housekeeping was quite bad. Compared to when I had departed, things looked even more chaotic.
I was frustrated since it seemed like neither Mike nor Tim were serious about my desire.
I chose to tackle the problem in a different way instead of becoming furious or irritated. Mike and Tim were standing in the living room, looking confused and expecting to be in trouble, when I casually called them inside.
At the outset, I emphasized the significance of cooperation and division of labor in our household.
It was unjust to ask Emily to carry the whole load, so I pointed out that she couldn’t.
Then I revealed my scheme. Announcing that we were going for a drive, I had Mike and Tim put on their coats. Although we exchanged puzzled looks, they eventually gave in and got in the car with me.
I stayed quiet the whole way there, and we arrived at a nearby shelter for the homeless.
I addressed Mike and Tim, explaining that the people living in this shelter were dealing with much more serious problems than we were.
The lack of a safe, dry place to live was a problem for many of them.
I hoped they would witness personally how grateful we are to have a home and how important it is to maintain it clean and comfortable for ourselves and our guests.
The importance of working together as a team and being mindful of their environment are concepts I hoped they would grasp.
We all pitched in to clean up the common spaces and feed the homeless that night at the shelter.
For the sake of our guests and as an act of gratitude for what we had, Mike and Tim learned the hard way how important it is to keep the place clean and inviting.
I could see they had changed their minds by the time we got home that night.
The value of empathy, accountability, and teamwork was very clear to them.
Beyond the obvious benefit of a spotless home, they had gained an invaluable lesson on the value of kindness and appreciation.
Mike and Tim started pitching in more around the house after that, and our family was able to weather the storm.
The lesson I had imparted to them about the enduring power of Christmas is a poignant reminder, particularly in this season of giving, of the significance of unity and mutual care.
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