Thankful? For What?

Thankful? For What?

Thankful? For What?

Sometimes the little things in life mean the most - Ellen Hopkins

   

Thankful?  For What?

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Every Thanksgiving we’re supposed to think about and acknowledge all the things that we’re thankful for.  Being appreciative for the good in our lives is nice, but we typically do so by comparing our lives to someone else's.  It’s like we’re thankful because we’re not in someone else’s situation.  “Wow! Bob was in a car accident? Totaled his car? That really sucks! I’m sure thankful I wasn’t in the car with him!”  It’s that kind of inner dialogue that makes me not like the word thankful.

Over the past few days I’ve heard many people say that they were thankful they weren’t in Paris during the recent attacks. Thankful isn’t the right word.  What right do they have to be “thankful” that they were sitting in their house watching a movie with a glass of wine while innocent people were slaughtered because they happened to be sitting in a restaurant, or enjoying a concert with friends, or walking down the street.  Are they thankful because they weren’t there?  Or, because it didn’t affect anyone in their family?  Or, because they’re not planning a funeral today?

Everyone says they are thankful for the security of their home.  But, what right do we have to be thankful for the roof over our heads and the food in our stomachs when that same security isn’t being provided to people desperately trying to escape war torn countries, or to the man living behind a dumpster in the alley?  Are we thankful because we’re not living in those situations?  Are we thankful because we didn’t have to risk everything for a chance to live freely just to be denied entry into a “safe haven” because people are scared of our religion?  Or, are we thankful because we’re not being turned away from the only homeless shelter within 100 miles because it was full?

As for me, I need a haircut badly and the girl who cuts my hair can squeeze me in before the holidays.  Thankful for that!  But, what right do I have to feel thankful for the haircut when four of my friends are losing their hair to chemotherapy right now?  Am I thankful because I really need a trim and my roots are a bit long.  Or, am I thankful because I am not enduring the pain of cancer and chemo and I’m not facing death?  See?  I think thankful is the wrong word.  It sounds vapid, empty. I don’t know if there is a better word though.

Instead, maybe we should use the word thankful in relation to what we can do for others.  I am thankful I can provide a meal, a smile, a kind word and a jacket to the guy living behind the dumpster...I am thankful I live in an area that is accepting refugees and I can provide a roof and a bed for a terrified family...Or, I am thankful I can be of help to someone fighting cancer.  I can clean their house, do their grocery shopping, make extra food so they don’t have to cook for the holidays.  See it’s a different feeling.  Helpful not vapid.

And, there is always something you can do for others.  Here are a few ideas if you are interested.

Volunteermatch.org is a great place to look.  Once you find something that motivates and interests you they will match you with a non-profit in your area.

Feeding America is a network of food banks that helps feed 46.5 million people in need all across the nation.  You can provide food to stock their pantries, or volunteer in the warehouses and distribution centers, or, you can volunteer to deliver meals.  

Active in your church, synagogue, or mosque?  Religious groups can always use extra manpower, supplies, and money.  Perhaps you can start a food drive or a jacket/blanket/shoe drive? Or, you can ask about families in need, elderly people without any family, or sick people that could use a bit of comfort. Spend some time with these people and see what you can do for them.

Call a local nursing home and bring treats and spend a few minutes talking with those who do not have family near by. Everyone could use an extra set of grandparents!

Keep it in the family.  You know that one family member who does everything over the holidays?  We all have one.  Why don’t you call them and ask what you can do to help get their house ready.  You can clean, mow the lawn, do the grocery shopping, or wash the windows.  Help is always appreciated and rarely asked for.  

And if you do find it in you to help others, perhaps this year when you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal you won’t just be thankful that you didn’t burn the turkey, or that traffic wasn’t too bad, or that the day is almost over and you can go to bed.  Maybe you’ll be thankful that all of your hard work helped someone more than you will ever know.  Or maybe as you eyeball the stuffing you’ll be thankful that you are sharing a moment of happiness, a moment to smile and laugh and to celebrate those you love.  Then you can do the dishes and take out the trash…

Photo by:  Jessica Bétard


Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.

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Last Updated : Thursday, September 28, 2017