Thanksgiving is the holiday just about everyone can agree on, and why not? After all, everyone has something they can be thankful for, particularly in the United States.
As adults, we forget to appreciate all we are blessed with. We curse the car when we have to make an expensive repair, forgetting all the miles it drove us to thousands of destinations. We may even be critical of our spouse, unable to appreciate all the good things they bring to our life because of a particularly irritating habit or minor failing (think perpetually being late or something on that level).
Believe it or not, it's hard to drive for more than a mile here in Southern California without seeing someone who is homeless. Some have obviously been that way for a while. Others appear to be new to the pain and it shows on their faces.
If you have a safe place to live, healthy food to eat and friends / family who love you to share it all with, you are in a much better place than these folks. As a global comparison, about 20 percent of the world's population lives in "absolute poverty" (living on less than $1.25 per day). Believe it or not, if you own your own home, drive a reasonably nice car and operate your own business, you are probably in the top 1 percent of the wealthiest people in the world.1
I'm not saying all of this to make you feel guilty; in fact, just the opposite. Another saying we have in our house is: To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). This is from the Parable of the Faithful Servant, but I believe it applies to all of us. If we have been blessed, it is not just for our own benefit, but also for the benefit of others, particularly those who have not been blessed as much as we have.
So, here's the point. Thanksgiving is in another few weeks. And while it will likely be a time of celebration, love and excess for you, it will be significantly harder for those who no longer have a family, have lost their job and/or don't have enough to eat. Take some time in the next week or so to do something for the people in your community who are generally ignored and neglected:
- Have a food drive in your office.
- Take your adjusting table down to the local shelter.
- Volunteer to hand out turkey dinners to the homeless.
- Take a complete Thanksgiving dinner to a poor family that is living on the edge.
You'll notice that none of the above involves any money from you. That's deliberate on my part. Your "good deed" should cost you time, not money. For you to get the biggest benefit, it should put you in a place where you are caring for people who have nothing to give you but their appreciation. If you really want to go all out, deliberately put yourself in an uncomfortable place where you can really see how the poor in your community are living day to day.
Do this the week before Thanksgiving. Suggest your family, friends and staff get involved as well. If you have an ungrateful teenager, make them do it with you. It will help you build a better relationship and open their eyes. Then, on Thanksgiving, share your experience with everyone as you gather around the table to give thanks. Let those who didn't get involved wish they had.
At the end of our lives, all of our "stuff" will go to someone else (or be thrown away by relatives who don't appreciate it and can't get anyone to buy it.) What we do for others will live on. What we do with a pure heart will have the greatest impact. Make an impact on the neglected and let them make an impact on you.
- Davies JB, Sandstrom S, Shorrocks A, Wolff EN. "The World Distribution of Household Wealth." United Nations University, Discussion Paper No. 2008/03, February 2008.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.