Monday, November 23, 2009

Serving on Thanksgiving Day

Have you ever stopped to think about the word "Thanksgiving"? It's a compound word made up of the abused word "thanks" and undervalued word "giving." Although most of us "give thanks" (sometimes consciously as a pre-cursor to eating by praying or simply by thanking the cooks/contributors for a meal well prepared) how many of us actually perform a substantial act of service on Thanksgiving? On the contrary, how many selfish statements do we make on Thanksgiving Day?

"Today is Thanksgiving, my day off to relax"

"When is the food going to be ready, I'm starving!"

"Run to the store and get what? I have to find an open supermaket in this cold?"

"Who's washing the dishes? Not me!"

How about changing your mentality this year from Thanksgiving as a verbal assertion to Givingthanks as an action? For some, it is hard to recognize that we are taking our home and families for granted. We just expect that Mom/Pop or Grandma are going to cook every year, that cleaning up the house before our relatives get there is enough service on our part, and that there will be sufficient money for such an occasion every year. This year, don't let setting the table or taking the garbage out at the end of the night be justified "enough" help from your part. Service, ideally, should begin at home.

Here's a couple of ways you can "give" more at home, what I like to call In-house services:
  1. Ask your parents/relatives if there's anything they would like you to do throughout the day, and when they ask you to do that and more be a cheerful giver.

  2. Have rugrats running around your house on Thanksgiving? Sit down and engage them in a game (For ideas and printables visit: Nickjr.com) instead of warning them to keep out of your room.

  3. Offer a service to someone in your family who you know lacks it (for example: a ride if you have a car, an outing with a younger cousin if you have extra cash) Remember, your time is a valuable gift. All gifts are not monetary.
If you're already satisfied with your in-house services, consider extending your gift outside of your home. Think about the thousands of people this year who won't have a choice between pumpkin pie or apple pie, white meat or dark meat. Instead, they must visit soup kitchens and be grateful with whatever food is served to them. There is something about physically volunteering yourself and being humble enough to receive instruction in order to make someone's Thanksgiving Day a bit more comfortable. Doing a bit of research to find the right organization that fits your availability might be a bit challenging, but the pay-off is definitely worth it! Start with your local churches (they most often offer weekly soup-kitchens) and ask them if they are serving Thanksgiving meals. For those living or planning to stay in the NYC Metro Area, the Bowery Mission's Thanksgiving Volunteer Registration is now closed, but they have another list of opportunities on their website. Also, New York Cares and Volunteer NYC highlight chances to serve this upcoming week.

Happy Volunteer Hunting and Givingthanks Day!

Tracey Calvo Clarke, 24, enjoys stumbling upon great writing, food, and travel deals. Her ideal job gives her the freedom to write about travel experiences, personal enhacement and entertainment events. She has been a member of Her Journey's Support Team for about 6 months and looks forward to seeing what's in store for the magazine.


  1. This is a great post Tracey. Honestly, I do take Thanksgiving for granted, whether I'm worrying about how much food we're going to have or how good it's going to taste. Although I am very greatful for having the money to buy food, I never really put much thought into volunteering. I'll look into it this year.

  2. I enjoyed reading this article as it allowed me to evaluate my life but more specifically my giving. Janet's song comes almost perfectly into play here "what have you done for me lately?" What have I done for others including my lord and savior? When I evaluated my giving I realized there is always room to give more and so this thanksgiving I will vow to helping around the kitchen. Doing this will also bring me closer to the women in my boyfriends family (hopefully this allows me to earn brownie points with them as well). I will play with the little ones and help clean up all with a smile on my face. Thank Tracey for the article.

  3. Me three. I have to admit that service is an area in my life where I can improve. This year, I'm going to participate in the Feeding of the 5000 at church on Thanksgiving Day.