Thanks and Giving

‘Tis the season when we focus heavily on both thanks and giving.  It starts with Thanksgiving and takes us through the Christmas holiday season.  While it’s good to give thanks during this holiday season, we should really practice thanks and giving throughout the year.  No matter how difficult life might be at any point in time, there are simple ways of expressing thanks and for giving to others.

There have been times in my life when free time was a more prevalent commodity than money.  During those periods, I gave through volunteer work. Many organizations need assistance and it can be a onetime event or something more frequent.  Choose an organization that is meaningful to you.  Maybe you have/had a parent or grandparent who was home bound? Volunteer to deliver meals.  Enjoy watching public television programs or listening to public radio? Sign up to assist with the pledge drives which occur several times per year.  Know how to knit or crochet? Pick up bargain yarn at garage sales and create caps and blankets for needy children.  It doesn’t even have to be organized.  How about helping a neighbor who is elderly or down on their luck?  If you have the resources, deliver a meal.  If not, help them mow the lawn, weed the garden, paint or clean the house.  Even if your life isn’t going so well or you don’t feel particularly social, these simple activities can not only boost your own self esteem and distract you from your troubles, but might just be the highlight of that person’s day and give them hope for a brighter future.

Sometimes, free time is at a premium but we have some extra cash.  These are the times where the majority of my giving is in the form of writing checks.  While less personal, it is still incredibly valuable to those who utilize the organizations.  I’ve answered phones for public radio and TV and some people call in with small donations, just a few dollars.  They feel the need to apologize that they can’t give more, but in reality, each contribution is valuable.  Just as snowflakes are small, when you combine many of them you form a snowball; and we all know what happens to snowballs when they roll downhill. 

A number of years ago I convinced a group of my friends to take the money we would spend on each other for Christmas and instead sponsor a needy family.  It’s not that I don’t love my friends and appreciate their gifts, but we all have good jobs and really wanted for little.  Instead of merely being an ounce of tax write-off and a pound of satisfaction, I received something much more valuable.  If you’ve ever delivered gifts or food to a needy family, you will understand the overwhelming sense of gratification – for what you have and for what you have done to brighten the lives of the less fortunate.  It’s truly one of the highest forms of love. 

One of the by-products of giving is that it reminds us to be thankful that we have the knowledge or resources to assist others. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to forget not only to continue to give, but to also to give thanks.  At other times, we are on top of the world and forget to be thankful for all the people and opportunities that helped us get where we are. 

I’ve begun a routine where I find at least one thing to be thankful for each day. Some days it’s harder than others.  If you’re out of a job or don’t have a place to live, it’s difficult to find even one thing for which you are thankful, but it’s there, if you look with your heart.  It could be something as simple as I contacted three potential employers; I was warm and dry; I had a warm meal; or even, someone smiled at me today.  The better things are, the easier it is to find ways to give thanks.  I have a loving spouse/partner; my children are healthy; I remembered to water my plants; my boss told me I did a good job; or I helped someone today.  

I’ve noticed that by doing this every day, finding at least one thing to be thankful for, however small, is really uplifting. Performing this task before bed may also help you fall asleep more easily, as it tends to erase many of the bad things that happened that day.

During this season, and throughout the year, keep on giving and keep giving thanks.  You will be rewarded in ways you never imagined.

About musingmirror

A writer of many genres, always in search of creative inspiration.
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