Ah Thanksgiving, full of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce and much more. It’s a day of travel plans, spending time with family, friends, and LOTS of eating.

Do we really feel “THANKS” and “GIVING”?

Sometimes we become so focused on foods we need to prepare, houses that needs cleaning, the cost for travel, dreading that one family member…yes, we ALL have that one. In spite of all these things, I believe we lose sight of what is most important.

Maybe those of you who are slaving away in the kitchen are feeling thankful to be able to make so much food and have so many loved ones to share it with or maybe you are silently grumbling that things are not turning out “perfect”.

Each Thanksgiving holiday, I try and set aside time to be thankful and to give of my time and energy to help others. My family instilled in me at a very young age the importance of being thankful and giving back. You may not have excessive amounts of money to donate to charities, your church, or elsewhere, but you can give of yourself. You never know when a kind word, deed, or action will change someone’s day.

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving in a very different way. It was an amazing blessing to me and an experience I will never forget. I met a man who was selling his art on the side of the road. He wasn’t asking for a handout, he genuinely took pride in his art. He once told me when he became unable to work, he knew he had to do something to make money. He always enjoyed and had a knack for drawing and painting. His art is very beautiful, whether it is landscapes, objects, or a superhero.

I drive by him regularly, usually giving him a homemade lunch, some paper, art supplies, or buying his art. Around Thanksgiving, I stopped where he was sitting and asked if he had holiday plans. He said he didn’t. He and his mother usually spent the holiday together, but he explained she had passed away earlier in the year. I asked if he would like to go to Golden Corral on Thanksgiving Day. His face lit up! He told me he and his mother usually ate there too.

On Thanksgiving Day, we drove to Golden Corral. He shared some of his life story, where he had lived, what he had experienced, his mother, and how thankful he was to have someone to spend the day with.

He had been feeling depressed lately fearing he would be alone for Thanksgiving. He knew that God would provide. When he was at his lowest, he prayed asking God for strength to get through the holiday without his mother.

Not long after, I arrived asking if he had holiday plans. He knew God had sent him a miracle. I felt beyond honored. I had been led to him that morning. I noticed him when most people drive by and dismiss him as easily as if he weren’t there. I listened to my gut that day and was blessed beyond measure.

As we were leaving, I noticed Golden Corral had to-go trays. I asked if he would like a dinner to take home with him. He said yes and expressed how thankful he was.

When we were getting in the car, he told me he would pay me back for everything I’d spent. I told him that wasn’t necessary and it was my pleasure to spend the holiday with him. He seemed surprised but thankful knowing there are people who will do something without expecting anything in return. The money I spent was completely insignificant in comparison to the joy I found that day.

So, on this Thanksgiving day, I challenge you to do more THANKing and GIVING to others in whatever way you can. You will be blessed far more than you can imagine.

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