Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It’s a time to gather with family and friends, watch the parade, eat great food, and take time off from the usual routine of homework and after school activities.  It is also the time of year that many of us turn our attention to what we are thankful for.   I always look forward to our family tradition of going around the dinner table and stating what we are most thankful for.

From the simple appreciation of a great cup of coffee in the morning, to finally getting the puppy the kids have been asking for, to the true gratitude of being a part of the Iroquois Springs family, we take a moment to share our thankfulness for all that we have.  It’s amazing to hear how the lists change from year to year as the kids get older and life brings us new challenges and opportunities.  Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, has termed “positive psychology”.  Emmons research has found that those who adopt an “attitude of gratitude” as a permanent state of mind experience many health benefits like taking better care of themselves, having improved mental alertness, and having  stronger immune systems.

 Studies also show that people who express gratitude are happier, more empathetic, and more willing to help others.  So, when a friend forwarded me an email about families helping families by donating a Thanksgiving Day basket to those who are less fortunate, we decided to be a part of this special event.  I wanted to extend our expressed thankfulness to an act of paying it forward and giving back.  We shopped for the suggested groceries and supplies, created a wonderful basket, and hand delivered it to a family in need.  The kids felt really good about helping create a more enjoyable Thanksgiving for another family.

The abundance of volunteer opportunities, especially as the holidays approach, is awe-inspiring. Do a Google search on “Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities” and the results are endless.   With all of the meaningful ways families can help give back, there is something for everyone.  Donate a turkey, help prepare and deliver nutritious meals, grab your running shoes and sign up for a turkey trot fundraiser, donate a warm coat to a homeless shelter, bring canned goods to a local food drive, or lead a holiday arts and crafts project at a community center.   Whatever it is that you decide to volunteer for, however small or grand the gesture, the feeling it will give is invaluable.  It will be something your kids will look back on and feel really good about. They will know they made a difference.

“Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting” Author Unknown