November 21, 2011
Helpful Tip #1: Thanksgiving—A time to be Thankful & Giving | Here’s How
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” -Meister Eckhart
If you’re anything like the people I know, you have a roof above your head, food to eat every day, health insurance, and several other luxuries—yes, luxuries. You have family members, you have friends, you have teachers, you have employers. Some of you even have employees.
Even with all this, you have experienced stress, you have experienced a cold, you have experienced sadness, and you certainly have experienced grief over your losses. But you are still moving.
We are all blessed in one way or another, but for some reason, it’s so difficult for us to express gratitude. Of course, when it’s a requirement, or an act of decorum, it comes easy.
“Thank you for having me,” we’ve been trained to say to our hosts. But life isn’t always a party. It’s a roller-coaster ride, and the people who are appreciative and thankful will never crash into the cement. That’s how powerful attitude is.
I raise my glass to those who can see beyond their sorrows, to the people who lose loved ones but make a concerted effort to laugh and spread joy, to the people who can hear the music in songs, to those who listen to prayers and strive to answer them, to the people who turn a moment into a beautiful memory that can last forever.
This Thanksgiving, I urge you to be thankful—to appreciate anything and everything you can think of. I asked some friends what they are thankful for this year. These were some of my favorite responses:
“I am thankful for having my dog Dozer for 12 years. Though he’s no longer here, he brought my family much closer. He changed our Shabbat dinners. He changed me as a person and taught me how to love. He taught me responsibility. The feeling you get when you rescue an animal is very unique. It’s almost like they know you are rescuing them. Dozer taught me unconditional love and friendship. It makes you realize that all the materialistic things people look for in relationships, don’t really matter. You can’t evaluate friendship with a Mercedes-Benz or a multi-million dollar home. It’s about unconditional love and support.” Joseph Simantoub
“In the entertainment and fashion industry, it’s hard to find like-minded positive people who push you to do your best. I am so blessed to work with a great team and have such supportive friends around me. I’m grateful to have a mom who has supported me through everything I have accomplished. I am also thankful for my ability to learn and work on my talents, and for my ability to give back. That’s the most important.” Natalie Yuri
“I have too much to be thankful for to fit it all in one sentence.” Jonathan Yagoubzadeh
“I’m so happy to have my mom who takes care of me when I’m sick, to have my dog who licks my face and plays with me when I’m sad, and to have my grandma who surprises me with sabzi and pumpernickel bread and chocolate. I’m also thankful for heat pads.” Soshiance Azadian
“I am thankful for all the people who have done something for me—who have helped and contributed to me and my growth this year.” Andrea Pazmino
“I recently realized how blessed not only I am, but how blessed everyone around me is. For the last few months I’ve been exposed to a different world—a world I read about in books. The fairy tales we read about are a reality for most of us. We should all be thankful for just being healthy. Some people don’t know if they will live until tomorrow, and what pushes them over is a mere pill or even several pills. This thanksgiving, I’m thankful to G-d for making me and everyone around me healthy and happy, and for my ability to be grateful for all this.” Josephine Aminpour
“I am thankful for my true friends, tight-knit family, my health, my happiness, and my amazing hairstylist Jordan Seban.” Lauren Dorfman
“I am thankful for having the leanest, meanest friends around me, and for my family, happiness, and health. I am also thankful for the amazing people who have allowed me to help them overcome their battles and fight for their rights.” Richard Pourgol
“I’m thankful for everything that didn’t go as planned in my life and for the challenges because they fueled me to re-route my path. I’m also thankful for all the opportunities that have been presented to me, but I’m more thankful that I was able to grab them.” Jessica Naziri
“I am appreciative and grateful for being given the opportunity to choose my own path in life, make my own mistakes, and pick myself up with a strong group of people around me.” Carolyne Amin
“I am thankful just to open my eyes and be able to see every morning.” Rodney Rabbani
“I’m thankful for love, for my five senses, for my dogs. I’m thankful for my education, for my loving and supportive family, my good health, having food and a roof to sleep under every night, and of course, to be alive. The list is endless.” Diba Mesriani
As I copy and pasted these, I noticed that each friend was thankful for something different. Andrea was inundated with work, but she was able to reflect on and appreciate the friends who stood by her this year. Soshiance was overcoming a cold, but she was still able to express gratitude towards the little things in life. Rodney simply appreciated the ability to open his eyes in the morning. Keep in mind, sight isn’t a luxury. Though most people are born with it, Rodney was most grateful for his ability to see.
I was progressively more and more inspired by each response. Joseph lost his best friend Dozer just days ago. Nevertheless, he was able to articulate his appreciation for that friendship over the phone for minutes on minutes.
And as for myself, I am thankful for parents who are concerned when I’m gone for too long, because I know I am loved; for a brother who expects more from me than I expect from myself, because it pushes me to set higher goals; and for friends who constantly reach out to me, just to make sure I’m happy and smiling.
Every Thanksgiving, there are several families who are not just thankful, but who are anticipating, yearning for, and excited to be receiving Thanksgiving meals from food pantries. It was disheartening for me to read that the L.A. Food Bank was having a tough time helping food distributors since donations went down 50% this year.
No, I am not an authority figure, but I feel qualified enough to declare that this is unacceptable. Leftover food is always on display at Thanksgiving meals. At the very least, people can donate that.
In addition to being thankful, and in light of the donation shortages this year, I would like to ask everyone to donate to food distributors, even if it’s just a 10 cent donation.
Here are some links to local organizations that feed families on Thanksgiving:
Donate to the Jewish Family Service Thanksgiving Food Drive
Donate to Help The Children
or Donate to the Los Angeles Mission
Wherever you turn, there are people who need you. Anything you do can make a difference. Remember the words of John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Thank you, and have a happy, thankful, and giving Thanksgiving.