Focusing on the “giving” of Thanksgiving

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Focusing on the “giving” of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Any reason to celebrate what we are grateful for, I’m there. My family likes to recognize and share what we are grateful for everyday. Now, I want to talk about what frequently happens as a result of all this thankfulness: giving.

I’ve been talking to my girls a lot about giving to others. This started when I decided to ransack their playroom and donate (what seemed like) half  of their toys. I asked them to help me choose what they wanted to give to someone else, and they really enjoyed this. I did too…there is something cathartic about getting rid of “stuff” because we know we have too much. In fact, I was getting a little angry because of how much “stuff” we had accumulated (and what state it was in).

I wanted them to appreciate the importance of giving…to understand how lucky they are and how important it is for them to give in their lives. I want them to know how good it feels to give. It is one of my favorite feelings in this world. I believe the more you give, the more you get in return. My life is full beyond measure not because of how many things I have, but because of how much I have been able to give.

I saw this concept in full effect last Friday. We took our girls to Krispy Kreme for a breakfast treat. While we were standing in line a man starting talking to us about his Black Friday purchases. He was one of those people who just really liked to talk. He was thrilled about what he bought for his wife and talked about how blessed he was to be able to buy her gifts as he shared a photo of his purchases on his phone. He mentioned that his house was broken into the week before, and he was obviously excited about the deals he got in order to replace some of the things taken from them. He talked for a long time.

He asked my girls, “What is Thanksgiving all about?” They replied, “Giving.”

This stumped the man for a few seconds. He was waiting for the obvious answer of thankfulness. In fact, he responded that “gifts” were for Christmas. But, I was very proud. Talking about what we are grateful for is a daily conversation in my house, and my girls chose to focus on the “giving” rather than the “thanks” in Thanksgiving.

A few minutes later, he returned to our table again with gifts for the girls. USB drives that he got for $4. He was really proud of the deals and was eager to share. Now, I will say that my husband and I had some reservations about this. I mean, this was a complete stranger who was giving (unopened)  not necessarily age-appropriate gifts to our children. But, I didn’t want to take away his joy and we accepted the gifts. We offered to pay for them, but he refused.

I know this was a slightly odd situation, but I wanted to show my girls some grace. We later talked about not ever accepting gifts from strangers on their own. Boy, this parenting stuff and teaching life lessons can be tricky at times! We’ve encountered this kind of situation before that was very funny, and  you can read that story here.

Now, what does this have to do with being present? In order to give, you need to be present to know what someone really needs. And, in order to receive gifts yourself, you must be present. And, being present for yourself or your loved ones is a great gift in itself.


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