Thanks + Giving

Today is Thanksgiving Day.

Although the Thanksgiving festivities celebrated by the Pilgrims and a tribe of Wampanoag Indians happened in 1621, it wasn’t until 1789 that the newly sworn-in President George Washington declared, in his first presidential proclamation, a day of national “thanksgiving and prayer” for that November.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want things to be better for myself and I end up focusing on what is wrong instead of what is right.  I have a little trick I use to keep myself in check when I can think I am getting too focused on what is wrong with my life:  charity.  After a bad day at work, I go to the gym and run it all out (others at work stress-eat and drink), then when I get home, I donate some money to a charity.  My Kiva account speaks volumes (more than I should here) about bad work days.  I have also noticed that when I have a bad day, I smile at strangers more.  I know it is because I am trying to combat the angry feelings and not spread the mood onto the unsuspecting and undeserving general population.  In fact, I think that I am trying in a small way to make someone’s day better.

We all have a lot of great parts of our lives, but we tend to only focus on the parts that are not going exactly as we would like, it is in our nature to focus on problems and pass over the smooth-running bits.  Today, try and remember a few things for which you are thankful.  I could type out a list of things and share it, but it should be personal.

Tomorrow is one of the largest shipping days of the year where people get up early to fight angry crowds to buy things that are so drastically discounted, that if they actually need them is secondary.  I would love for everyone to consider shopping local as often as possible.  Supporting small business owners is how we can ensure that each city and neighborhood had it’s own feel.  Also, check out ETSY for unique handmade items.  The seller may not be local to where you are, but they are still a small business.  It is not always possible to shop local for everything, so when you are shopping on Amazon.com, consider using Amazon Smile.  Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.  You pay the same price for all the products you were already going to buy, but now your favorite charity gets some help.  Absolutely painless.  You can search by the charities name or by your city.  You can change the charity every time you shop and help all the charities you want.  My default charity is always Lifelong AIDS Alliance, but I will also support the food banks in Mason and Thurston Counties.  There are museums, public radio stations, local places of worship, everything.  Simply choose your charity and then bookmark your  Amazon Smile homepage and use it every time you shop.

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