Jack Levine: A true Thanks-Giving celebration


Volunteers serve Thanksgiving dinner at the St. Francis House, in Gainesville.

File photo
Published: Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 5:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 9:37 a.m.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let's remember that the holiday's name is a compound word: Thanks and Giving.

Each of us has much to be thankful for; our lives, families, friendships, and hopefully, work that fulfills us. Thanking those who we love, admire, depend upon, and have work relationships with is important, but too infrequently expressed.

While we're already inundated with ads for holiday gift-giving, here are ten Thanks-Giving thoughts to share with family members, friends and colleagues: Gifts from the heart.

1. 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, veteran's support organization as a token of appreciation for what we have, and what others do for the less fortunate.

2 Express our gratitude in word and deed to those who care for others as a profession or as volunteers. Give compliment for the good works of caregivers for our children and frail elders especially at holiday time.

3 Respect our elected officials for their service. 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.

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

5 Conserve resources by consuming less fuel, reusing, and recycling. Native American culture considered our planet as a parent, worthy of respect and protection. Preserving our environment is self-preservation, as well as a life-saving gift to wildlife, plant-life, and our children's children.

6 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. Actively listen and show others that positive attention is a gift worth giving.

7 Put technology in its place. We live in a high-tech, low-touch culture, governed by the beeps, buzzes, and blinking lights of technology. As time is compressed, stress grows. Our children need to know that our eye contact and voices are focused on their needs, too. Cell phones, pagers, and e-mail should not keep our loved ones on hold.

8 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.

9 Health is a form of wealth. Making sure we eat right, exercise, and take time to rest and relax are the keys to clear thinking and long-term effectiveness. Our bodies cannot support us unless our minds resolve to take care and be careful.

10 Take optimism pills every morning...the time-release kind. Negativity is contagious. Those who believe they will make a difference can achieve their goals. Pessimism is the mind's way of giving up before the first step is taken. The power of one, multiplied and magnified, is the only correct formula for progress.

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. For those whose childhoods were less than ideal, we have the opportunity to assist others to have a more joyous future.

As we plan for the holiday season, let's realize that there are neighbors, young and elder, whose weeks ahead are not brimming with joy. For whatever reason, in whatever circumstance, we know that there are people in need who can be helped if we choose to do so.

In honor and remembrance a family member who was there for you when you needed them most, please thank and support those who illuminate our paths, exemplify kindness, teach justice, and nurture our futures. What a fitting tribute to the legacy of our ancestors.

Jack Levine, a family policy advocate, is founder of 4Generations Institute, an initiative to bridge the generations for mutual benefit. He may be reached at jack@4Gen.org

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