CLAY COUNTY – As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let's remember that the holiday's name is a compound word – Thanks and Giving. Each of us has much to be thankful for – our lives, families, friendships, and hopefully, work that fulfills us. Thanking those who we love, admire, depend upon, and have work relationships with is important, but too infrequently expressed.
Here are 10 Thanks-Giving Thoughts to share as Gifts from the Heart.
1. Let's share our bounty with those with less. Consider the gift of one week's grocery bill donated to a community food bank, domestic violence or homeless shelter, a child health charity or foster parent association, hospice, veteran's support organization or your United Way as a token of appreciation for what we have, and what others do for the less fortunate.
2. Express our gratitude to those who care for others as a profession or as volunteers. Give compliment for the good works of caregivers for our children and frail elders … those caring individuals deserve the kindnesses of family members and neighbors all through the year, but especially at holiday time.
3. Respect our elected officials for their service. We don't have to agree with all of their policies, but we should respect their service, and hold them accountable for their actions ... or lack of action.
4. Give time to a worthy cause. Our volunteer investments for the benefit of others builds community and creates a great example for our children. Whether we choose to sing in a chorus, read to a toddler, mentor a youth, or visit a lonely elder, our time is a priceless gift which appreciates in value.
5. Conserve resources by consuming less, reusing and recycling. Native American culture considers our planet as a parent, worthy of respect and protection. Preserving our environment is self-preservation and a life-saving gift to wildlife, plantlife and generations to come.
6. Slow down. Whether behind the steering wheel or in conversation with others, speed is not a good thing. Being in a perpetual hurry endangers lives on the road, and cuts short our relationships with others. Actively listen and show others that positive attention is a gift worth giving.
7. Put technology in its place. We live in a high-tech, low-touch culture, governed by the beeps, buzzes, and blinking lights of technology. Take a breather from all the numbing numbers. Cell phones, pagers and e-mail should not keep our loved ones on hold.
8. Advocate with assertion, not aggression. Free speech is not an invitation to be offensive. Responsible advocacy requires thoughtful strategy, practical solutions and effective conversation. Advocacy is the heart-felt expression of a wrong to be righted, with composure and grace.
9. Health is a form of wealth. Making sure we eat right, exercise, and take time to rest and relax are the keys to clear thinking and long-term effectiveness. Our bodies cannot support us unless our minds resolve to take care and be careful.
10. Take optimism pills every morning ... the time-release kind. Negativity is contagious. Those who believe they will make a difference can achieve their goals. Pessimism is the mind's way of giving up before the first step is taken. The power of one, multiplied and magnified, is the only correct formula for progress.
As we enter the holiday season, let's realize that there are neighbors, young and elder, whose weeks ahead are not brimming with joy. For whatever reason, in whatever circumstance, we know that people in need can be helped if we choose to do so. As the Talmud asks of us ... “If not you, who? If not now, when?”
In honor and remembrance of a family member who was there for you when you needed them most, please thank and support those who illuminate our paths, exemplify kindness, teach justice and nurture our futures. What a fitting tribute to the legacy of our ancestors.
Jack Levine, Founder of 4Generations Institute, is a family policy advocate based in Tallahassee.