Go Ahead, Dish it out: Gratitude
Social media has been blowing up recently with articles that focus on so many negative things that have been happening in our world. We aggressively post “open letters” written by folks to prove one point or another. We confidently bash one another on the political front, even though none of us are likely to be qualified to make an intelligent determination on something so complicated as foreign policy. We sigh over the next generation’s lack of respect, scoff at the way that our kids are being taught in school, and criticize the way our fast food order was handled.
As we approach this season of Thanksgiving, I decided a few weeks ago to pay close attention to the good around me instead. I jotted notes as I personally witnessed acts of kindness, and tried to be cognizant of those around me who were showing love in practical ways. I am happy to say that in my own little corner of the world, goodness is all around. Join me taking a glimpse of the things that people in “my neck of the woods” have done to help others in recent weeks.
Although our church isn’t particularly large in membership, the hearts of the members are gigantic. In recent weeks they have collected over 400 shoeboxes filled with toys and gifts for Samaritan’s purse; an organization that takes them to children in other countries who often receive nothing else for Christmas. They have filled plastic tubs with enough food and gift cards to provide holiday meals for 50 local families in need. They have filled a truck with toys which will be taken to the Appalachian region in Eastern Kentucky and given to parents as gifts for their children. Many members, as well as a local business, will give of their time and energy to insure that they toys are delivered and wrapped, and the families are able to enjoy them for the holidays. They will likewise deliver and give away gifts to the children for their parents.
Having suffered the recent loss of my father, my family has also been the recipient of numerous kindnesses. From meals prepared by friends and loved ones to beautiful flower arrangements to cards, hugs and prayers; our family has been surrounded by love and thoughtful gestures. People took time out of their busy lives to pay their respects at the visitation and/or attend the funeral. Even now, a few weeks later, friends will often take a moment to share their sympathy.
Last week my husband explained to me that he was short on cash because he had felt compelled to pay for the young mother’s groceries who was in front of him in line. The staff that I belong to provided a memorial service and meal for a coworker’s family who had lost her mother- also a retired member of our staff—because the family didn’t have to means to do it themselves. A young mother that I know was put on bedrest for the final weeks of her pregnancy, and some church members came and finished the nursery for her. A friend and her husband are foregoing Christmas gifts to one another and using the money to help a family in need. My niece opens her home on Thanksgiving to any friends without a place to go.
Are you beginning to get the picture? There are good people all around us. People who, without fanfare, quietly go about serving others and giving of themselves.It is so easy to get caught up the negativity around us that we sometimes fail to see all of the goodness in our world. Do you want to be a part of the wonderful things that can be done to help one another, and to help bring about positive change? Here are some suggestions to help you get started during the holiday season:
1. Volunteer! Organizations are all over the place that provide food, shelter and clothing to those in need. Donate a few hours of your time to help during the holiday season. Giving of your time is even free!
2. Pay it forward. Treat the person behind you in the Starbucks line to a free drink, or offer to help someone to their car with a cart full of groceries; it doesn’t have to be a huge gesture to make someone’s day.
3. Go caroling. Whether you go to a nursing home, hospital or simply the house of someone who can’t get out; a little bit of Christmas cheer can go a long way.
4. Give to a local family in need. There are giving trees in places like shopping malls with names of families of prisoners who need gifts this Christmas. Contact your local school to see if their family resource center has names of families who need help. Toss some money in the Salvation Army bucket. Look around you – there are people everywhere who could use a hand up during the holiday season.
5. Approach the holidays with a thankful heart. When you realize how incredibly blessed you are, you can’t help but bless others along the way. Your gratefulness will overflow.
Join me in seeking out the goodness that is all around us, instead of focusing on the bad. Be determined to be a part of bringing about positive change, especially during this holiday season. Your thoughtfulness will be contagious to those around you.