I have been thinking a lot about giving thanks lately. A very wise woman recently said, “it is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.” This is something that has been on my mind lately, as it is the holiday season. Which is the time to really give thanks. I think we should be thankful all year long, and that has been something I’ve been trying to do this year, because I have a ton of things to be thankful for.
I also believe that when we are able to, we have a responsibility to give back and help others who are less fortunate than we are. We all go through hard times. Maybe that simple gesture is what gives someone the opportunity to turn things around and get back on their feet. It isn’t difficult to do, nor is it really expensive.
This year I probably went a bit overboard on giving back. But I still wanted to do it and I honestly enjoyed it. Because my husband and I had the means to do so. We gave in three different ways, and it was perfect.
The United States Postal Service runs a canned food drive every year, where you put food out next to the mailbox and they pick it up. Super easy to do, because it requires almost no real effort. Literally it is simply putting food in a box or bag and walking it out to the mailbox. How much easier can it possibly get? This is not an expensive one either.
We watched sales for a local store in early November, and I needed to go pick up some canned food anyway for my pantry. The cans were $0.50 per can. 10 cans is a whopping $5. I was already there and taking advantage of a great sale, planning for the postal food drive. Even better because I didn’t have to go out of my way to buy these things. With everything I put in this box, I spent maybe $20. It wasn’t a ton because not only did I take advantage of sales, but I pulled some things out of my pantry that I had bought previously.
I was looking at Costco recently (after the canned food drive, of course), and they sell many things in cases. I typically don’t buy soup by the case there, because it exceeds my allotted space. They also sell canned tuna or chicken. Again, I don’t purchase it here because the cans are bigger than what I can consume and it would end up being wasted. However, it would be perfect for me to pick up a few cases of different things around the time of the food drive next year, because it is cheaper than many places and buying in bulk has a big advantage for this purpose. It is a place I plan to go and buy some things next year.
A thrift store in town (St. Vincent De Paul) runs a food bank type of thing each year, and we’ve been giving to that each year for about two years now. My husband and I have a tradition of going shopping at thrift stores. It is so much fun for us, and we never know what we will find. We’ve actually turned thrift store hunts into a full date night.
Just taking the time to go check them out and then planning dinner out around which store will be the last stop. I think it was last year that we found out about the food drive near Thanksgiving to help others. I was more than happy to donate to this again, and so started the tradition, I suppose. This year we went in just for that purpose, and actually ended up finding my husband an excellent pair of work pants for a great price. Score! It works out when it is supposed to, I believe.
The third and final thing we did was go to the mall and find the Christmas trees with the cards on them that let you kind of get to know a child and purchase presents for them, giving you an age, a list of wants, a list of needs, and some general information about them like their favorite theme, color, or cartoon character/movie character. We each picked a child, mine being about a year old, and Nathan’s being 8.
We went to a couple of stores in the mall and found some amazing items for these two kids, that they needed to help them through the winter. This was a new method of giving back for us, as we have never done this before. I have no idea why I felt so compelled to do this, but I did. In fact, I told my husband I wanted to when we were shopping one day, and we decided to do it as the last thing on our list while there. Unfortunately, we got distracted, as I am very good at that, and forgot to walk by the tree again to take care of this. On his next day off, I asked him to take me back so we could finish this errand up.
This would be the one where we spent a fair amount of money. Although we also did get everything we wanted for the kids on sale, and it really did take off a pretty fair amount of money. The sales made this opportunity to give back much more manageable.
We did pay for the convenience of staying at the mall too. We could have gone to Walmart or another store where things would be cheaper and found more or other things for the kids. But, we elected to stay in the mall and not have to make a return trip. This was a really fun opportunity for me, because we were giving back to kids. They don’t understand, and I don’t think they need to at their age, the struggles their parents may be going through. They need the chance to be kids and enjoy being a kid.
Doing all of these things reminded me that I have a ton to be thankful for, and that really is a mindset. Seriously. I think too many people are thankful when life is going well, and up until it isn’t going quite so well. Then that mindset is easily changed. I had a moment last week where I was extremely upset. Probably more like a full day. My husband’s wallet was stolen and that meant I had to go replace everything in it. The wallet also had a ridiculous amount of sentimental value to it. Which I learned once it was gone. It was a Coach wallet I had bought him 8 years ago for Christmas. It was one of the first really nice things I had ever bought him. I had no idea I would be that sad about a wallet. Lol.
After my day of being upset and complaining, I remembered, it’s just stuff. I can order new debit cards, go get IDs and all that stuff. Yes, it is time consuming and expensive. But, at the end of the day, I still have my life. My husband is still here. It could have been far worse. He could have been robbed for his wallet, or even worse.
When we put things in perspective, the bad never seems all that bad. It cost me about $120 so far, and two hours out of my day to deal with it all. Is that really that bad? No. I still have a lot to be thankful for, really. That is the kind of mindset I am talking about. The perspective of just how bad things are. Because typically, they feel like the end of the world. But how many of us have thought about what would actually constitute the end of the world for us? Probably not many.
Another thing I’ve been doing is expressing appreciation for the people around me. I probably sound sappy and emotional at times, but I say what I feel, and I’ve come to the point where I no longer care that I sound all sappy and emotional. It is what I am feeling, and I think people should know about it. I tell my friends how much I appreciate them and their support for me, or that I love them. I do the same with my husband. Even small things.
One time, a very long time ago, someone suggested doing an exercise where I think of three things that were good about my day. It didn’t matter how big or small they were. Sometimes it felt stupid. Like, it needed to be bigger and better than what I could come up with at that time. It was also difficult to pull three things out of where the sun doesn’t shine, it seemed.
But looking back, that was the beginning of a huge change in perspective for me. Because it became easier as time went on. I found it easy because I was taking the time to appreciate the amazing people I’ve surrounded myself with. Sometimes the little things were the best. For example, when my husband would take the time to check the battery level on my iPad and plug it in. That is always something I appreciate because then it doesn’t die on me when I’m in the middle of using it.
It really is the little things in life that make life wonderful. One day we will all realize that the things we considered little, were actually big things, and to me that is simply amazing. When I see someone else reach that point, I’m such a nerd. I am excited for them, simply because that is the place in life where there are only great things to come after that. Nothing can stop us from loving and living life.
I love, love, love this year and I feel like I am ending 2018 on the perfect note. In the perfect place with the best people around me. I am extremely lucky in some sense, yet I have also paved this path for myself too. It is very much a combination of luck and hard work. I hope you are ending the year on a very high note as well, and looking forward to the new year and all of the amazing things it will bring you!