Fantastic Friday: Thankful (part 1)

Despite the negativity floating around the Internet after the presidential election, I am glad to see so many people celebrating “Thirty Days of Thankful.” The point is to use the month of November to recognize thirty things we are thankful for. It’s so easy to take our lives for granted, and although negativity and positivity are both contagious, it seems that negativity is much more virulent.

Though the “Thirty Days of Thankful” is meant often for people to post on social media or blogs, it can easily be a solitary, contemplative activity to help individuals focus on and recognize all the good in their lives.

After being sick several times this month, I am jumping back into my Fantastic Friday posts with two ideas I wanted to share about spreading the love. While there are so many other things I am personally thankful for, I wanted to start with some broader topics that could apply to many—and both contain ideas about how to spread the love.

Veterans Day (belated)

I was overcoming a mini plague last Friday and neglected to post about Veterans Day. The fact that fellow human beings are willing to disrupt their lives and give up some of their autonomy—and recognize that they could be making the ultimate sacrifice for others—is enough to restore anyone’s faith in humanity.am-flag-thank-you

In one of the classes I teach, we were swapping stories about relatives we have and had who fought in WWII and Vietnam and the ways those experience changed them and brought about challenges in living their day-to-day lives after coming home. I have seen these effects in neighbors and friends much more recently than Vietnam. Those who served in the name of freedom have indeed paid a price, even if they returned physically intact. I do not think this country does nearly enough for our veterans.

With the holidays approaching, I have seen various posts circulating around the Internet encouraging people to send cards, postcards, and care packages to veterans and active servicepersons recovering from injury. Although I don’t want to endorse one organization over another (and any you choose to support should be researched thoroughly), a quick Google search will show you a plethora of organizations and locations to send your packages and cards. Though it’s not even close in magnitude to the thanks veterans are owed, it’s a small way we can acknowledge their contributions.

Countdown to Christmas

IMG_8040Every year I cringe in seeing the strange ways parents use Elf on the Shelf to encourage good behavior in their children. With a child of my own, I’m not sure I want to go down that psychological path. However, I did see an idea that I do want to start with my family: each day in December, collect one food item, and on Christmas Eve, donate the whole box to a local shelter. The season is all about giving and sharing love, and this is a fun way to “count down the days” while building up fellow man.

The same can be achieved with the “angel” trees some stores feature, in which children in need write wish lists, and individuals or families can “adopt” the wish list, purchase gifts, and help make that child’s holiday just a little better that year. It’s this type of thoughtfulness that has the power to spread love. And in a world that seems so eager to spread hatred, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., seem to resonate best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”