Long time readers of my blog know that when this time of year rolls around I like to take a moment to write about the subject of thankfulness and gratitude. I have even written my share of posts regarding the topic of “Black Friday”. This year however, I’d like to take a break from writing about thankfulness to write about the second half of the word “Thanksgiving”…”giving”.
Now, in regards to the day itself, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. However, as anyone in the United States know by this point in their lives, it is also when the gift giving season begins as well. However, it is also time in which many people engage in another type of giving: the charitable kind. It never fails, unless you are so mean that you make Scrooge and the Grinch stop and say, “Dude, chill out”, inevitably everyone finds some way to give.
We feel more of a desire to help others this time of year. In fact statistics show that charitable giving goes up during these months. It’s like what Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew Fred tells him in a Christmas Carol, a quote I have used before, but one that remains as aporpo for this year as it did last year,
“But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round – apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that – as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
There are so many different ways to give back whether it’s through time, money or gifts. Restaurants allow you to round your purchase up a dollar for groups like St. Jude Children’s Hospital, or animal shelters. Groups like the Salvation army do their Red Kettle drives, local book stores do book drives for children’s hospitals, and of course the Marine Corps sponsors the Toys for Tots Drive. Even groups like World Vision, Feed My Starving Children, Union Gospel Mission, and Samaritan’s Purse will have plenty of opportunities to give. Whether you go big, or just plink in a couple coins, every little bit helps.
After all, as Santa Claus says in L. Frank Baum’s book, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, “Yet every man has his mission, which is to leave the world better, in some way then he found it.”
It’s nice to take time to remember those less fortunate. It brings out the yuletide spirit in all of us, and allows us in a way, to become Santa for someone else. It doesn’t even have to be someone who’s “poor and unfortunate” you can reach out and help a friend or family member and show them you care. You can even help out a total stranger.
I remember last Christmas waiting in line at Subway at the mall for my lunch, as a little boy scrounged around for a dime in his pocket. I had some extra change so I handed one to the cashier, allowing the boy to get his lunch. The boy smiled, and thanked me. Because of this, the girl behind the register even gave me 10% off on my meal because I performed a random act of kindness.
When you give, you will always get back. It may not be in an instance tangible way, like the 10% off on my lunch. But I guarantee that finding some way to give, will inevitably make you feel good long after the season is over.So rather than complain about how commercial the season can get, or beating up a grandma with a stick for the last can of cranberries, or ripping a video game system out of some nine year olds hand, why not stop a moment, and remember the second part of Thanksgiving: GIVING. And not just giving presents, but about honestly reaching out a hand to help someone else. Those acts, no matter how big or small, can help create a ripple effect that can change the world.