It’s easy to get wrapped up in the holiday season before it even begins. We’re anxious to start checking off to-do’s and complete our shopping lists so that when sales hit, we know what we’re buying, where we’re buying it from, and how much money we’re saving. Black Friday sales are announced earlier and earlier; shopping hours now begin on the holiday we all used to take off from the world to be with our families, and the following Monday our credit cards take an additional beating as we shop online at our favorite retailers for even more savings. We’re excited! SO EXCITED to begin the Christmas season that we often bypass Thanksgiving all together. After all, it’s only one day. I only have to worry about it like the week of. It doesn’t take nearly as much planning and money as Christmas does. Right?
And there are lots of ways to pretend you’re not forgetting about Thanksgiving in the social media world. You can participate in the 30 Days of Thanks and share what you’re thankful for each day, hashtagging away your guilt as you listen to Christmas music in November while shopping early with Amazon Prime (me, me, and me). You can do cute little turkey handprint crafts with your kids that turn out adorable even though they made a mess large enough to give you a migraine in the process. You can even host Thanksgiving at your house and silently curse your mother under your breath for making “suggestions” as you finish preparing the turkey the night before. However you get through this month while upholding a thankful façade is up to you, but I challenge you to do better.
Homelessness, hunger, loneliness, they plague every community, large or small, rich or poor. We always have good intentions to do something for those less fortunate than ourselves, but how often do we actually follow through? I always said I would volunteer somewhere I could bring Lucas with me, so that he would see that being a good person and being a disciple of Christ isn’t about saying certain things or being a certain place on Sundays but acting like one. I haven’t yet followed through on that. Last year I said it was because he was too young. He wouldn’t understand. So instead of volunteering, I collected items for Kid President’s Socktober event and donated to the women’s shelter in Indianapolis. I brought Lucas with me when we dropped things off, and I explained why we were doing what we were doing, but of course he didn’t understand.
I know volunteering with him will be difficult and different. I know a lot of places won’t allow it. I know that he will end up with big questions after such an experience; he’s only 2.5, after all, but after the fall we’ve had that has been riddled with unexplainable tragedies, I don’t think there’s a big question I can’t answer anymore. I want to be the example for him. I want him to grow up seeing that the good we want to see in the world has to come from us. That change starts with us. That it’s best to do rather than to say. (And that’s coming from a mom who says a lot.)
I challenge you to separate Thanksgiving and Christmas this year in your house by focusing on the giving part of Thanksgiving, not just the thankful part. It’s easy to say “I’m thankful.” It’s harder to show it.
Find a volunteer activity to do with your children. Whether it’s collecting and donating items, visiting a nursing home, volunteering at a soup kitchen (there are age requirements for some volunteer positions), or even just helping an elderly neighbor or friend of the family with yard work this fall. Be thankful for what you have, yes, but give your time and energy and love to others too.
Let’s make this world a better place in real life, not just on social media.
I’ll update you later on how we ended up meeting this challenge ourselves. Promise. And I am thankful to all of you for reading each week. You give me an opportunity to do my favorite things: write, photograph, teach, inspire, and entertain. Thanks ❤