For many families across the United States, there will be moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunties and uncles and cousins and friends who will sit down to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast. They will spend hours preparing a meal fit for a king and will bring out their fanciest table linens and plates; their silver-plated serving spoons and trays and tall sparkling glasses for champagne. They will dress in their Sunday best and sit down to say grace, giving thanks for all that they have.
But for some, this movie-type scene is only one they will imagine in their heads as they try to stay warm and hope that the little they had to eat that night will give enough nourishment to survive another day or even a week. They hope that they will have just enough to give their children shelter, even if it is humble and meek. Yet as dire as their circumstances may be, they too will give thanks for what they have on the only type of Thanksgiving they may ever see.
I have often wondered how someone may feel when a hand is reached out to help them but one time of the year. When a ladle serves them soup from a businessman in a suit, do they wonder where he was months before when they were weak from hunger and could barely even move? I wonder when they see us, with our faux fur-lined jackets, our fashion-forward coats and our new boots, do they wish that just once we would remember how it felt to sting from head to toe from the bitter winter's cold?
And when we think about offering help to others, the how's and the why's, in the end, should not really matter. The help we give should not be determined on how they got there or why it happened. It should not be determined on where they are from, what color their skin is or what language they speak. Our help should be given freely and without question or contempt.
I can't help but think how different the world would be if we all viewed life from alternate perspectives. If we saw each person's potential of what they could be and if our definitions of success were altered, would our human experience become more meaningful and whole?
Instead of asking how much money we made, how many promotions we gained or how many degrees we earned, what if we started asking the important questions? Instead, we could ask, “How many people did you help? Did you use your skills, talents and education to better someone's life? Did you reach out to offer support, even when it was inconvenient for you? Did you give more because you had more to give?” What if those were the questions we asked to define true success?
If more of us viewed the human experience this way, the world may just become a kinder place. The clatter and chatter would begin to cease, and people would help others without asking questions or needing worldly praise. They wouldn't think about color, religion or race, they would just lend a hand and do it with a smile on their face.
This year at Thanksgiving, while carving your stuffed turkey, try to remember that there is always room to give more and to do more, and not just during the holiday season. This year live in a way that resembles a generous and compassionate human experience that will make the world a better place.