Yesterday I sent out my Thanksgiving email to those closest to me. I told all of them that as I put their names into the address bar I would pause to think about how they have impacted my life. One of the people I sent the email to is a newer friend. She has had a phenomenal year in her family. Her beautiful daughter went through with a direct adoption and on October 13th was named baby Zane’s legal parent. It is a single parent adoption, and Zane is a beautiful little boy. His face lights up in one of the sweetest smiles whenever anyone comes near him. He is one of the most social babies I have ever met. I love to get down on the floor and play with him.
Zane is bi-racial and one of his mother’s friends has three little boys. When the middle child saw Zane, he said “I don’t know if you realize this but I think Zane is going to be a black man when he grows up.” Out of the mouths of babes.
As I said, Zane’s grand mother is a newer friend and this is what she sent me in reply:
May your Thanksgiving be the best ever. Thanks and Giving what two wonderful words to put together and to put into use. Blessings Carol
Me again, how simple and how very true. One day out of the entire year, or one long weekend, if you have friends and family in to visit and yet if you really think about it shouldn’t this be in practice every day of the year?
I practice gratefulness every day. I am a big believer in the book The Secret and before I even throw my covers off I am thinking of all the things I am grateful for in my life. It doesn’t matter how crabby I might feel any particular morning, I can’t stay crabby if I am going over in my mind everything I am grateful for in my life. I always start with being grateful for meeting and marrying Larry. I have said this before and I will say it again here, he is the only husband I have had-the only one who deserves the title of husband. My second grateful point is my health. Good health is everything, if you do not have it, your life is totally in disarray. My list goes on and that is as far as I will go, but you get the idea.
The last thing I do before falling asleep comes from the book also. I replay what happened that day and if there is anything that truly upset the apple cart for me, I go over it again only I change the outcome. It could have been a slight disagreement with Larry (which is very rare), it could have been about someone who did not call me on my birthday, it could be the burnt rice in the microwave. Whatever it is I change the way it all went down and I fall asleep in a much better frame of mind. Doing this at bedtime puts a different spin on being grateful, because when I reflect on a different outcome I see the gratefulness in the situation.
That covers the first half of the word Thanksgiving.
The second half is about giving as in giving back. The other day I was in line at the local grocery store, and the woman in front of me was short by $2 and some change and was about to put something back, and I said “I will cover the difference for you because I believe you will do it for someone else some day.” It is a version of paying it forward. When I made the decision to walk in the Breast Cancer 3-Day it was definitely because I want to raise a good sum of money to pay it forward because of all the wonderful people who had walked before me and were paying it forward. In my life I think of the good things I try to do as paying it forward rather than giving back. Although it is only semantics, i prefer to pay forward because giving back seems like something one has to do, not something one wants to do. I pay it forward every time I sit down at my desk on Thursday mornings and talk to women who have breast cancer in their lives and need a friendly voice on the other end of the phone. I pay it forward when I blog because I know I have a way with words and my intention is to get readers to pause and think.
How is this one to stop and make you think? Anyone who lives near a military base can invite soldiers for dinner on a holiday. There are many brave men and women sitting in barracks eating military base food (which I am sure is decent) but they are not in a home with a gathering of people. What about a local soup kitchen? I just watched one on TV In the Bowery that will feed over 5,000 people this year. Yesterday I watched a woman who was living with her family in a pop up trailer one year ago. This year they will open their home to 35 strangers for Thanksgiving dinner because they are so grateful their lives are better.
Everyone who complains about the stress of the holidays should be thinking about those who are stressed because they have no holiday. In this “all about me” world though we tend to think about that casserole our great aunt makes that no one likes but we have to put it somewhere on the table.
I watched the Obama family go to a soup kitchen on the news, and thought how hard is it to teach our children the importance of reaching out? How hard is it to give up several hours of one day to pay it forward? How close have any of you here been to needing a helping hand at one point in your life? I have been there. When my children’s father died he left us with tremendous medical bills, and a first and second mortgage. My little salary did not cover both mortgage payments and I had to let the second mortgage go. I could not pay it. This was back in 1986 when foreclosures were low and banks had time to process a foreclosure quickly. I had the letter, I was given thirty days to pay it all back or the sheriff would arrive and nail our door shut.
The kids father had worked for years for General Electric and he had a life insurance policy. You and I both know that big companies don’t like to write big checks. They want to hold onto their money as long as they can. I was desperate and they were not cooperating. Finally I picked up the phone and told the employee on the other end that I would be getting in my car and driving to Schnectady the next morning to pick up this check as I had two days to save my family from foreclosure. I did not have to do that, they promised I would have the check the next day by Federal Express.
I am sure that Federal Express man was very surprised when an entire family ran up and threw their arms around him. The check arrived one hour before the 2PM deadline!
That is only one story during that time in my life when I was in real need of many helping hands. It is also one of those memories of bad times that in reality were good times. When Bernie B gave her opinion in a Bernie B opinion this past week about why so many kids don’t honor thy parents she said:
I believe “Honor Thy Parents” went out the window when we tried to give our children a life better than the one we had growing up. I guess we did not realize that, by making life easier, we were not giving our kids the chance to experience difficulty and the lessons learned there from.
I asked my oldest son the other day what that period of our lives taught him, and he told me it showed him how much he was loved and how far I would go as a parent for him. Now that is an honor for sure.
I have no regrets in my life. To have regrets would be a waste of my time because I cannot change things. Regretting things means one is focusing on the negative, gratefulness and giving are positively charged experiences that will give you an energy boost while taking you away from the “all about me” time frame and yet bringing it back to that. Why? Because the end result is you feel better so it is all about you isn’t it?