Expressing Gratitude, Connecting to Others, and Finding Deeper Meaning by Lena Robin
Thanksgiving is almost here! I love the holiday and so does my family. The entire concept is about family, friends, and food. What could be better? We know we should be grateful for all we have and many of us are. Others, during this time of year, are looking for opportunity to connect with others or for a deeper meaning in their lives. Expressing gratitude by helping others is one of the best ways I have found to do all three, both during the holidays and the whole year. Many, think the idea is admirable but don’t know just how to proceed or feel that their time is too limited to do anything meaningful. You don’t have to be a martyr to make another person’s life a little better. I am here to tell you helping others couldn’t be an easier, more rewarding task.
No matter your income or the time you have available, helping others is easy. A few ideas that work for me are listed below:
Call your local soup kitchen, food bank, food pantry, or church
These organizations need assistance during the holidays and all year long. My friend Taryn organizes a Turkey Tribe (friends, their children, as well as donations) to converge on the local grocer and buy all the 10 to 14 pound turkeys we can find. The kids get to experience, and hopefully, understand that each turkey we are donating is helping a local family have a Thanksgiving dinner they might not otherwise be able to afford. Call your local soup kitchens, food bank, or pantry to see what they need and provide help around your schedule. Some assistance that these charities need is:
Clean out your pantry or consider running a food drive with your friends, coworkers, or neighbors. My daughter simply walks through our neighborhood (with me as her shadow) carrying some bags and knocks on peoples doors. Almost everyone has always helped. She collected a grocery cart full of food and we dropped it at the local soup kitchen (to use in their pantry). If you live in a neighborhood where such a request would be a hardship on your neighbors, go to one nearby. Be prepared to provide the name and location of the charity with each request.
Visit a local assisted-living or nursing home
The holidays can be an emotional time for anyone. The elderly, whose family or friends may be far away or have passed on, are quite susceptible to loneliness during the holidays and all year long. Contact the home to plan visits and consider visiting with a plan. Some of these homes will allow you to bring in your well-behaved pet for the residents to love. You can also bring games, crafts, music, or even coloring to share with the residents.
Clean out your closets
Clean out your closet, your family’s, your neighbors’, and friends’ to donate clothing, shoes, toys, and housewares to your local charities. My friend Cassandra collected clothing for a family who lost everything in a house fire. It was time for me to face up to the fact I would probably never be a size four again and giving the clothes to someone who needed them was a cathartic experience. It sounds a little self-serving but I was helping someone else, right?
Invite someone for Thanksgiving dinner
Many people don’t have family or friends with whom to share a Thanksgiving meal. If you know a single parent, a single person, a neighbor, or even your local grocery cashier who doesn’t have plans for the holidays, invite them to share your meal. Many of the military are far from their families and a home cooked meal is well appreciated. Having someone to your home for Thanksgiving gives them an enjoyable dinner and gives you the chance to know someone new in your life.
Continue the project(s) all year long
Whatever you attempt to do, consider continuing it all year long. Doing so will help you maintain perspective every day. Besides the good you know you are doing, helping others feels great to you!
These ideas may seem insignificant to you but for someone else, they can be life changing. Whether you are looking to express your own gratitude, connect with others, or even for a deeper meaning in life, helping others may be the best way to do it. I would love to hear your experiences in helping others. They may assist me or someone else reading this blog, to find a way to make someone else’s life a little better.