Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 6:25 am
By MARTH R. CARR
This Thanksgiving is a little different from years past due to the economic climate. Many of us have been laid off or had our house taken away in foreclosure or seen our life savings evaporate into thin air. Those who don’t fit into any of those categories know perfectly well that they’re not in a safe zone and might be next.
It can be tough to feel good when the bottom line has slid so far into the red. Paying for the over-sized thanksgiving dinner might even be stretching a few folks beyond their means. So, let’s start this off by making this year’s holiday into potluck and invite the neighbors right around us. Even if you’re doing just fine, open your doors and set up a few extra places. Everyone bring a favorite dish and at least one thing you can be grateful for, just for today.
Just in case anyone is stuck on what they can list, I have a few suggestions of my own. At the top are all of the veterans and service men and women fighting overseas who make it possible for us to sit down to a peaceful dinner with friends and family. May this day be quiet and calm and may there be a swift and peaceful resolution in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Red Cross is once again collecting one million holiday cards to send to service members, veterans and their families in the U.S. and around the world. Ask guests to bring a card with a note from their family and go to www.redcross.org and look for Holiday Mail for Heroes for further instructions.
Next are all of the people who have given up their holiday to work such as doctors and nurses or the police or firemen and women so that others remain protected. Also on the list are all of the family members who are also caregivers to a loved one each and every day, without a respite or a complaint. They are celebrating this day quietly by someone’s bedside. If someone on your list of friends and family is in any of these categories, bring a hot plate or two with a note of thanks taped to the top.
A big shout out on the list also goes to anyone who has taken in a child to raise as their own, no matter the circumstances. Each time someone opens their home to a child in need of a home everyone learns that the heart can grow and stretch to include many, many more. To be of service to a children’s home in your area check out www.residentialeducation.org and the list of members. Ask how your talents and time might be of use to someone else.
Along with a side dish, ask guests to bring one can of food for your local food bank. Many of them are experiencing a shortage in a time of greater need. Go to www.secondharvest.org to find the food bank near you. One can of soup from each of us can go a long way to helping someone else this week.
Lastly, give thanks for all of the faces around your table. Recognize the wonderful and unique quality each person brings, without any criticism or commentary on how they could do it even better. Today, let their efforts be enough and let them know you appreciate just who they are without any kind of post script.
As for all of the worries that we have set aside this Thanksgiving, please keep in mind that together, starting on the local level, we can overcome all of this and create a better day. We can ask for help where it’s needed and offer assistance with what we have, no matter how limited we may think our efforts are going to be. We can start by having neighborhood meetings where our friends and families and ourselves get the opportunity to share and connect, to offer and receive and to grow tighter bonds. Then, when all of the market turmoil is over we may just look back and see that this was the best of times. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. More adventures to follow.
Martha Randolph Carr’s latest book, “A Place to Call Home,” a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you’d like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Martha’s Big Adventure coming soon to World Talk Radio and Voice America. E-mail Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.