This Family’s Week of Thanksgiving Gratitudes

I’ve been forthcoming about my “Bah Humbug” Thanksgiving attitude and I’m continually peeved that day has become an excuse to stuff our faces and watch football instead of making it a meaningful time of self-reflection and gratitude.

This year, I decided to do something about it.

I designated last week my family’s week to serve because I can’t think of a better way to express gratitude than to give back. I started with just a few things on our schedule and I was astounded at the onslaught of opportunities we were given.

It was a humbling lesson that when we look beyond ourselves and stop making excuses like “I don’t have enough money or time,” that there are so many people in need. And we, in turn, didn’t spend a dime, were blessed 100-fold, and feel closer together than ever. Last week I/we:

  • Visited a widow in our congregation.
  • Babysat four kids throughout the week, giving their mamas a much-needed break.
  • Volunteered with Hadley at the local food bank and helped prep for Thanksgiving baskets.
  • Gave a large box of Bode’s old clothes to a little guy in need (I’ve been holding off on donating them to the thrift store because I felt someone needed them and I’m so glad I waited).
  • Organized a large blogging event at Sephora and asked all those in attendance to bring a contribution to a mama who recently lost her husband. I was inspired by the many women who reached out to help, many of whom did not have much to spare.
  • Found a way through Haddie’s beautiful artwork to uplift and fellowship a man who has severe social anxieties. We have set a weekly goal to continue this service.
  • The culmination of our week was on Saturday when we volunteered to serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Irving Street Women’s Residence, a residential and support program designed to serve chronically homeless women. Volunteers of America recently implemented a family program where kids of all ages are invited to serve and I jumped at the chance because most community service opportunities are for older kids.

    I’m so glad I did because I gained a new appreciation for each member of my family.

    I get a bit teary-eyed thinking about Jamie (slightly out of his comfort zone) reaching out and entertaining these women. And yes, pumpkin stories were in abundance.

    I relished preparing our portion of the meal with Hadley and watching her pride whenever she received compliments on her hard work. She also made some of the most beautiful holiday cards we later gave to the patrons.

    I laughed when Bode volunteered to be the caller in BINGO and blazed through those numbers like a seasoned pro. As the youngest volunteer, he carried himself with a maturity beyond his years.

    At least to age 7. :)

    Our crummy year was forgotten as we uplifted and entertained these women so down on their luck. Many were mothers and grandmothers. Others were single and will probably only know loneliness. But we had one thing in common: gratitude for being brought together that afternoon.

    “I’ll never forget you guys,” one of the women promised as we said our good-byes.

    And this is one Thanksgiving we’ll never forget.

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