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Saturday, Aug 23, 2014
Commentary

Giving thanks for our neglected blessings

Published:

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s remember that the holiday’s name is a compound word — thanks and giving. Please take these few moments to consider my ideas for enhancing the celebration of Thanksgiving and the holiday season ahead.

Each of us has much to be thankful for — our lives, families, friendships and hopefully, work that fulfills us. Thanking those we love, admire, depend upon and have work relationships with is important but not expressed as often as we could. Find the chance to share a sincere “thank you” to important people in our lives in the next few weeks.

While we’re already inundated with ads for holiday gift-giving, here are some thanks-giving thoughts to share with family members, friends and colleagues.

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, veterans’ support organization or your United Way as a token of appreciation for what we have, and what others do for the less fortunate.

Express our gratitude in word and deed to those who care for others as a profession or as volunteers. Give compliments for the good works of caregivers for our children and frail elders. Those caring individuals who care for babies and the bed-ridden, and help nurture and stimulate their minds, deserve the kindness of family members and neighbors all through the year, but especially at holiday time.

Respect our elected officials for their service. Although we believe in representative government, who among us is brave enough to run for public office? 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.

Give time to a worthy cause. Volunteerism is time and talent philanthropy. Our investments for the benefit of others builds community and creates a great example for our children. Spectatorism is relaxing, but our community’s needs can be addressed, in part, by sharing our energy. 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.

Conserve resources by consuming less fuel, reusing and recycling. Native American culture considered our planet as a parent worthy of respect and protection. Our throw-away culture is feeding our landfills with trash, and our air and water absorb the residue of fuel-generated pollutants. Preserving our environment is self-preservation, as well as a life-saving gift to wildlife, plant life and our children’s children.

Slow down. Whether behind the steering wheel or in conversation with others, speed is not a good thing. Being in a perpetual hurry endangers our lives on the road, and cuts short our relationships with others. Give yourself a few extra minutes in transit to be a safe driver ... and listen a bit longer to the words in conversation with loved ones and co-workers.

Put technology in its place. We live in a high-tech, low-touch culture, governed by beeps, buzzes and blinking lights. As time is compressed, stress grows. Take a breather from all the numbing numbers, and ask others to be considerate in public and private spaces by turning the “on” switch “off.”

Advocate with assertion, not aggression. Free speech is not an invitation to be offensive. Responsible advocacy requires thoughtful strategy, practical solutions, and effective conversation. Clear and consistent communication with allies and adversaries alike sets the stage for progress.

Health is a form of wealth. Making sure we eat right, exercise and take time to rest and relax are keys to clear thinking and long-term effectiveness. Positive attitudes and negativity are both contagious. Those who believe they will make a difference can achieve their goals. Pessimism is the mind’s way of giving up.

Holidays remind us that bridges across the generations are built upon the stanchions of memory.

We who recall the glow of candlelight reflecting the faces at our grandparents’ table understand how vital heritage is for appreciating who came before us and who we are.

Jack Levine is founder of 4Generations Institute. He lives in Tallahassee.

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