On Thanksgiving, what I am always most thankful for is my family. My family is always there for me in thick and thin. My family has weathered many storms and enjoyed sunny days together; I can count on my family for love, compassion, and support, and I provide the same to them. I don’t have a very large family, nor do I have much money, but I have a big heart, full of lots of love. My love is shared with and among my family, for whom I am most thankful on Thanksgiving and every day.
Other things for which I am thankful include food, faith, community, freedom, education, technology, career, and health. I am thankful for food, though it is not easy to get by from month to month with food prices continuing to rise. I appreciate my faith because, if it was not for that, I would not be where I am today, and things would likely be much worse. I am grateful for community, such as organizations that provide fellowship, to my family.
I am always thankful for freedom and I remember my grandmother’s stories about when she lived in Communist Poland, with people fearing for their lives when homes were raided in the middle of the night and people were never seen again. I am grateful for education, though the large debt required to pay for it is a hardship. I appreciate technology that makes life easier. And, I am thankful for career in many capacities, including that of being a mother, as well as for the potential of a stable gainful and enjoyable employment in a workplace with decent people, if that is ever attainable. I am thankful for my good health so I do not have to pay out-of-pocket to see the doctor as a result of being without health insurance.
So often, organizations such as colleges, churches, and charities have fundraising drives to help give to those in need. When I am asked to donate, I reply that I could benefit from some assistance, myself. As a poor single white mother, so often such places overlook people such as myself, as has occurred again this year. People in my shoes are reduced to begging for even a little bit in return. People may maintain the perspective that whites have privilege and that is definitely a stereotype that hurts poor white single mothers such as myself because the majority of any aid, as I observe, goes to people of other races.
I am also thankful for the holes in some of my shabby clothes and worn-out shoes, the place that I live even though it is not my own, the student loans that provide opportunity, my nearly decade-old vehicle that is still in great shape, and that sacrifices that I am able to make for the benefit of my family. I am thankful for the $15 haircut that I get every two months instead of going to a salon and spending loads of money, and the $3 bottle of fingernail polish that I can use for a manicure or pedicure instead of going someplace to have it done for me. I am grateful for the free lunch that I eat twice each week at my apprenticeship, and for the store closing sale at the local KMart where I can save a few dollars on Christmas gifts for my son. I am thankful for what little I have because more is always spent than saved.
These are additional reasons why I am thankful for my family, particularly at Thanksgiving. Every so often, there is that rare person who comes along who might be caring and/or supportive, but with my family, I know they will always be there, in good and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. People should be more important than money and possessions, and indeed, my family is most important to me.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I invite you to think about family, values, and people in need. Think about and be thankful for people who are close to you. Think about people whom you see at work or in church every week who have little or nothing, and who are usually overlooked in their need. Take action on what you can do rather than what you cannot. Open your heart and mind to see what you do not want to see, and take action for what you otherwise would not have done. A little bit goes a long way, especially for folks who don’t have much.
Happy Thanksgiving! Remember what you are thankful for!
[Author’s Note: Within one day of posting this article, I was solicited by a man on LinkedIn, out-of-state, to contact him by whatever means necessary. People really need to get their heads out of the gutter, and be open to simply being helpful to those in need without being offensive and/or wanting something (inappropriate) in return. Solicitation is so offensive, degrading, and dehumanizing to me; is nothing that I have ever done; and it is incredible to me that so many men (I’ve experienced this many times on LinkedIn) do it. It is unfortunate and tragic for humanity that there are those who attempt (and succeed) in taking advantage of people in need in a sexual manner.]