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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks. Giving back.

Well, it’s the week of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday. It has no real commercialism tied to it. It isn’t a religious holiday or marking politically important event. It is simply a day to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy in this country.

Initially the Pilgrims were giving thanks for basic food and shelter. Almost half of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower had died the first winter in Plymouth. The “First Thanksgiving” was a festival where the Pilgirms gave thanks for their health and wellbeing, and the bountiful harvest that next year. You can read more about it here.

This background is probably one of the reasons that I get so mad when, right after Halloween, I start to see Christmas decorations go up in stores. Hey, there is another holiday here! Can’t we enjoy it before you start pushing the next one on us!?

Commercialism is almost antithetical to Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday about remembering what is good in your life. Yeah, you may not have everything, but you have something, more than many people in the world. You probably have more than many people in your country, state and even city. It’s a holiday about giving thanks for that something, no matter how small it is.
It is a fitting beginning to the Christmas season, which starts essentially the day after Thanksgiving.

Christmas has been commercialized far too much, but at its core Christmas is about helping those who are less fortunate. The whole idea of Christmas presents comes from stories about St. Nicholas, who helped those in need, at least once by giving gifts. The thing that enables us to give is our thankfulness for what we have. When you realize what you have been given, you want to give back.

So, as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, pause, think about, and actually give thanks for the blessings you enjoy, big or small. There will probably be more than you think.

Then, this Christmas season, think about helping those who are less fortunate than you are. We’ll be outlining a few ideas on how to give back in this blog, so stay tuned!

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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