I love Thanksgiving. I have many reasons to love this holiday, but mainly it gives me the opportunity to thank everyone for everything, all at once. I thank God, my family, my friends, my co-workers, and some of the strangers I have met through the year who I believe to have been "angels in disguise". I was taught this lesson of gratitude over 20 years ago during one of the most difficult times in my life.
I was 18 years old. I had just graduated from high school, my parents were separated and heading for a divorce, my mother was struggling to take care of all of us, and the decision was made to move from Garrison, ND to Minot, ND. More job opportunities, a fresh start, we were hopeful that this would be what we all needed.
When we arrived, we had to find a place to live. Mom found a small apartment. She found two jobs, one at the Little Flower School as a cook, and the other was at K-Mart. I found a job at McDonalds. But even with 3 incomes coming in, we still had a hard time. It was Thanksgiving, and with all of the family drama going on, nobody in Garrison was inviting us for dinner. We were on our own and we didn't have much. A container of Jello and a half gallon of milk with assorted condiments were in the fridge. That was it. We were trying to keep from thinking about it, and getting more depressed about this situation. Not only was I worried, as I'm sure Mom was, about eating for Thanksgiving, but for the rest of the week. Then, there was a knock at the door...
Two ladies carrying big grocery boxes full of food were there to give us what we needed. Food. They were from the church. There was two of everything. Turkeys, canned vegetables, boxes of stuffing, boxes of mashed potatoes, bread, butter, and pies, and of course, the cranberries. Mom had to swallow hard, because pride doesn't go down easy, and she had never taken or needed to take a handout in her adult life, that I could remember. I remember Mom starting to cry and in a shaky voice, she said, "Thank you on behalf of me and my children." We hugged those ladies and Mom and I vowed on that day to try and donate something, ANYTHING, to the food shelves because they had helped us when we needed it the most.
I thank those ladies to this day, whereever they are, for helping me and my family. I'm not Oprah, giving away refrigerators, or building homes for people, but I try to do what I can and give what I can. It might be a few dollars to a friend in need, who is down on their luck. It might be to the Salvation Army in the big red kettles (they are all out now and they need your help this year more than ever). It might be to give a ride to a co-worker that has their car in the shop. Any small Act of Random Kindness is important in the life of someone who has run out of luck and hope. Just do it, and then thank God, the Universe, your Higher Power, for all of the blessings you have received in your life. Here is a small portion of mine:
1. My health.
2. My home, job, family, and friends.
3. My future.
4. My past. Because I can't appreciate anything I have today or tomorrow if I don't appreciate where I've come from.
Make your own list, and then in a grateful voice, say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
To everyone in my life who has helped me get this far, and for those who will be there to help me in the future. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!