This is a big week for two topics: gratitude and food.
First up: gratitude. In many ways, gratitude is au courant. Gratitude quotes, sites especially for expressing gratitude, movements to teach gratitude, even gratitude gurus—there’s a place for anyone who has an inclination to be grateful. I’m not making fun of this (oh, maybe just a little) or separating myself from the crowd: I recite gratitudes to cure bouts of negativity, and I’m overdue to participate in a gratitude challenge with a blogging group. Goodness knows the world wouldn’t be hurt by mountains of gratitude.
But being grateful (and saying so) is one thing. Acting in response to gratitude is something else.
Okay, on to topic #2: food.
With Thanksgiving approaching, food is everywhere. Advertisements, radio shows, advice columns, early warning systems for defrosting turkeys—whether you want traditional, organic, vegan, or ethnic, there’s a Thanksgiving meal waiting for you.
Or is there?
For Americans who are struggling, Thanksgiving is one more reminder that food is a source of stress. Will it be available? Will it be affordable? (Don’t even bother asking, “Will it be good?”—when you don’t have enough food, worrying about quality becomes something of a luxury.)
Now, adding #1 and #2…
Why not make this a time for active gratitude? Why not move beyond the platitudes of gratitude and act upon your gratitude to help others be grateful about food? The options are many:
- Donate food to a local food bank. Remember, the people who use food banks are real people who want real food! Give what you would want to eat yourself.
- Donate money to an organization that coordinates and distributes food, such as Food Lifeline and Feeding America (and Action Against Hunger, if you want to think internationally). You don’t have to be affluent to make a donation that counts.
- Volunteer to help! Distribution centers (like Food Lifeline) rely on volunteers to break down large loads and repackage the food so local food banks can pass the products to clients. Hunger relief organizations (like Northwest Harvest in Washington State) have many volunteer opportunities for collecting and organizing food. Organizations that serve free Thanksgiving meals need volunteers to set up, serve food, and clean up. (Of course any of these organizations would love donations, too.)
My guess is that taking action to help others will remind you of how fortunate you are. Then you’ll have that many more things to put on your gratitude list.
Another way to help: share this post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, to encourage others to participate in active gratitude. And when you make your donation, let us know so we can express our appreciation to you.
Questions for Reflection: In what ways do you express gratitude? How does the up-coming holiday stimulate your desire to be grateful and show appreciation? Where does food fit in for you in your life, and what would you do if you didn’t have access to good food? What would you like to do to act on gratitude?
Writing Prompts: “When I express gratitude, I feel ______” (then keep writing); “I make sure to be grateful by ______” (then keep writing); “All the emphasis on food at this time of year makes me ______” (then keep writing); “One way I plan to show gratitude through action is to ______” (then keep writing).