Friday, November 25, 2011

Pay It Back by Robin Gorman Newman

Thanksgiving has become a huge commercial holiday.  I was watching an early morning news program earlier this week, and there was a feature on a place called Jive Turkey in Brooklyn, NY that specializes in preparing deep fried birds ( healthy is that?!) available with varied seasonings that they ship all over the country.  Apparently they're in high demand...who knew?!

My local chocolate shop is selling pricey chocolate turkeys wrapped in multi-colored foil.

Fine dining establishments jack up prices and offer fancy prix-fixed meals for those who opt to eat out.

It's a big occasion for diet companies to market their programs to those who gorged on stuffing and pecan pie, in preparation for New Year's, when many resolve to shed pounds.

It's also an occasion that has become synonymous with stores running huge times generating headlines in the news about people being injured in the feeding frenzy to snap up bargains in the wee hours of the morning or after midnight.  Doesn't anyone sleep?!

It all feels very commercial. 

Does anyone recall the true meaning of Thanksgiving?

As a parent, I feel an obligation to share that message with my son. 

We plan to bake brownies and bring them to the local volunteer firehouse.  We will do this again on Christmas. 

Last year, we also visited Ronald McDonald House and baked for the families in residence.  It was a moving and humbling experience.

I want Seth to know that it does a body good to give back.  I'd like this to be a lesson he shares with his own kids one day, and to know that it was something he practiced as a child.

It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day and not stop to feel gratitude for what you've been given.

And, with the eight days of Hanukkah just around the corner, Seth will be looking for gifts, and I don't want him to take them for granted.  As an only child, no doubt he is somewhat spoiled, though my husband I have endeavor to have a consciousness of what we provide for him.  But, it's hard when you know something brings him much pleasure. His smile is infectious.  He doesn't get everything he wants, but he's not lacking either.

Seth helps to raise funds for his school by selling products and buying books at the fair.

I have yet to take him to a soup kitchen, but that is an outing I've contemplated. 

He did visit the Interfaith Nutrition Network with our synagogue, as part of Mitzvah month -- November.  They collected and helped distribute food to needy families on Long Island.  I thought that was a great outing, though Seth found it "kinda boring."

I want to give thought to other ways he might contribute to the community and world at large. We help sponsor the care of Kibo the elephant through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and we follow his progress via emails updates they send.  It's a sweet cause.

It's important in life to know that some of our greatest happiness can come from giving and doing for others.  It's not necessarily about financial contribution, but taking initiative and acting out of love and kindness.  Putting someone before yourself and putting yourself in their shoes (especially if you can afford Manolo Blahniks).

What do you do with your children to instill a sense of gratitude and giving back?  Would love to hear some of your ideas.

Go forth and pay it back!!

Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

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