As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s remember that the holiday’s name is a compound word – Thanks and Giving. Please take a few moments to consider these ideas for enhancing the celebration of Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season ahead.
First, each of us has much to be thankful for – our lives, families, friendships, and work. While there is no perfection in any of those dimensions, let’s admit that the glass is more than half full for most of us most of the time. Thanking those whom we love, admire, depend upon, and have work relationships with is an important, but often-times, neglected action.
As for “Giving”, please consider sharing these Ten Thoughts with your family, friends and colleagues as a holiday gift.
1. Let’s share our bounty with those with less. Consider the gift of one week’s grocery bill donated to a community food bank, domestic violence or homeless shelter, foster parent association, the Salvation Army, or your United Way as a symbol of appreciation for what we have, and what others do for the less fortunate.
2. Express our gratitude in word and deed to those who care for others as a profession or as volunteers. Give compliment the good works of caregivers for our children and frail elders. Those caring individuals who clean the bottoms of babies and the bed-ridden, and help nurture and stimulate their minds, deserve the kindnesses of family members and neighbors all though the year, but especially at holiday time.
3. Honor our elected officials for their courage. While we say we believe in representative democracy, who among us is brave enough to run for public office? We don’t have to agree with all of their actions, but we should honor their service, and hold them accountable for their actions….or lack of action. Silence is the antithesis of effectiveness in a democracy.
4. Give time to a worthy cause. Our volunteer investments for the benefit of others builds community and creates a great example for our children. Spectatorism is relaxing, but our community’s needs can be addressed, in part, by sharing our energy. Whether we choose to sing in a chorus, read to a toddler, mentor a youth, or visit a lonely elder, our time is a priceless gift which appreciates in value.
5. Conserve energy resources by consuming less fuel, reusing, and recycling. Native American culture considered our planet as a parent, worthy of respect and protection. Our throw- away culture is piling our landfills with trash, and our air and water absorb the residue of fuel-generated pollutants. Preserving our environment is self-preservation, as well as a life-saving gift to wildlife, plantlife, and our children’s children.
6. Slow down. Whether behind the steering wheel or in conversation with others, speed is not a good thing. Being in a perpetual hurry endangers our lives on the road, and cuts short our relationships with others. Give yourself a few extra minutes in transit to be a safe driver…..and listen a bit longer to the words in conversation with loved ones and co-workers. Actively listen and show others that positive attention is a gift worth giving.
7. Put technology in its place. We live in a high-tech, low-touch culture, governed by the beeps, buzzes, and blinking lights of technology. As time is compressed, stress grows. Immediate response raises expectations, reduces careful consideration, and makes us more prone to error. Take a breather from all the numbing numbers, and ask others to be considerate in public and private spaces by turning the “on” switch “off.” Our children need to know that our eye contact and voices are focused on their needs, too. The cell phone, pager, and e-mail should not keep our loved ones on hold.
8. Advocate with assertion, not aggression. Free speech is not an invitation to be offensive. Responsible advocacy requires thoughtful purpose, practical solutions, and open conversation. Clear and consistent communication with allies and adversaries alike sets the stage for progress. Advocacy is the heart-felt expression of a wrong to be righted, with composure and grace. An advocate’s power is in persuasive and persistent articulation, and the recruitment of others to the cause.
9. Health is a form of wealth. Making sure we eat right, exercise, and take time to rest and relax are the keys to clear thinking and long-term effectiveness. Our bodies cannot support us unless our minds resolve to take care and be careful. Being healthy examples to our children in nutrition and behavior sends positive signals for their attitude and future actions.
10. Take optimism pills every morning….the time-release kind. Negativity is contagious. Those who believe they will make a difference can achieve their goals. Pessimism is the mind’s way of giving up before the first step is taken. Those who want to make change for the better in their lives, neighborhood, and the world around them, should stop whining and start winning. The power of one, multiplied and magnified, is the only correct formula for success.
Holidays remind us that bridges across the generations are built upon the stanchions of memory. Those among us who recall the glow of candlelight reflecting the faces at our grandparents’ table understand how vital heritage is for finding ourselves. For those whose childhoods were less than ideal, we have the opportunity to assist others to have a more joyous future.
As we plan for the holiday season, we have the obligation to realize that there are neighbors, young and elder, whose coming weeks are not brimming with joy. For whatever reason, in whatever circumstance, we well know that there are people in need who can be helped if we choose to do so.
In honor and remembrance a family member who was there for you when you needed them most, please thank those who illuminate our paths, exemplify kindness, teach justice, and nurture our futures. What a fitting tribute to the legacy of our ancestors.
Jack Levine, Founder