Hurricane Sandy and the Spirit of Thanksgiving

How a Natural Disaster Can Make Us Grateful, Not Envious

I still feel cold after 12-days without heat and power at my employer’s house due to the high winds of Hurricane Sandy. I have neighbors who have major damage to their homes, neighbors that have family members that have lost their homes and all their material belongings, and I even know one nanny that lost a family member during the storm. That’s why empty shelves at my local grocery store, several hour gas lines, and no heat or electricity for nearly two-weeks seems trivial compared to the concerns of many others. I know how truly lucky I am, and I am so very grateful for all I do have.

Almost daily, nannies and au pairs email me with questions to post anonymously on our newsletter Facebook page. Today I received a message from a nanny that is angry about the fact that her employers make more money than her. She is literally jealous of the children because of what they own.

When you see interviews on television with those who lost their homes from fire or flooding from the hurricane, they all feel grateful they are alive. It’s amazing that people who lost most of their material possessions can feel grateful.

Yet, a nanny who was not scathed by the storm feels envious and angry because those she works for have more possessions than she does. Today, I hope that what I write will help her adopt an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness.

And then, I’d like you to ask yourself if you ever resent the kids you care for because they have more material possessions than you do?

The reality is that nannies usually do not own a home the size of their boss’ or posses the goods their employers have in abundance. Often the charges of nannies have bigger bedrooms and newer, more sophisticated electronics than the nanny. And given the wages and benefits of the nanny the quantity and quality of these acquisitions are more than the nanny is likely ever to achieve.

It is sometimes easy for nannies to feel envious. It is so easy to become fixated on jewelry, clothes, computers, and technological belongings. It is not uncommon for peoples working at all jobs to covet what they would like, even if they do not need it.

But envy is all-encompassing and debilitating. Envy must be avoided because it causes physical depletion and mental fatigue. Envy saps the body and mind of resources and energy besides being time consuming.

The intellectually and spiritually mature nanny understands that more stuff does not guarantee happiness, serenity, or satisfaction. In fact, the complications and stress from trying to “keep up with the Joneses” tends to impede the search for inner peace. The wise nanny finds joy in helping shape her charges and does not feel a sense of entitlement.

There is no better time to be thankful than when celebrating Thanksgiving. The holiday is an opportune time for reflection about the nature of thanks and appreciation, wants, and needs, desires versus necessities. This November I want to be thankful for the blessings I find in life, to appreciate the small things I may take for granted, and to celebrate the big things I tend to overlook, and to spread that joy of life to others.

If the victims of Hurricane Sandy can be grateful after losing their homes and belongings, certainly the jealous nanny that wrote me can learn to be thankful for what she does have, rather than focusing on how much her employers have and what she cannot afford.


  1. Hello, I am a nanny for 12 years. I am from a 3rd world country. During my infant years I used to experience a lot of things that people cannot imagine… walk 2 hours to get to my grandpa's house… no electricity so we will lite small candelas… walk 15 to 25 min. to carry water for cooking or drinking… I live in Brooklyn NY and work for a family that live in the area… They lost power for 2 days and the mom thought her life was a mess and so so bad getting so much stress. I think back around 25 years ago and see woww! how people can make a little tiny thing into an end of the world situation. Just to make you think how far we can go without seen the rest of the people or world situation.

  2. Well anonymous above do you feel like people that lost their homes it is a tiny thing? Do you think those that lost a friend or family member a tiny thing?

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