Don’t Retire, ReFire: What is your contribution to the season of Thanksgiving?

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By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

Autumn in Chester County, this year, is one of the most brilliant displays of color that I’ve seen in recent years.

This month of November is packed with so many thoughts and emotions, as we enter the season of giving thanks and being grateful for what we have. All of that spills out into the holiday festivities leading to the New Year. So, here we go! Let’s explore ways to get the most out of this Thanksgiving season and how we may contribute to its richness.

The older I get the more I incorporate and celebrate that emotion of thankfulness and gratitude into my everyday life.  Do you feel the same?

As a grandmother (they call me GiGi), I’m conscience of calling attention to gratitude and hearing what they are grateful for, when I ask them. I then talk to them about what it means to contribute to the enrichment of the world around us.

The following six suggestions will guide you on ways to show gratitude and ways to contribute to the betterment of the world around you and beyond. In many cases, it won’t cost a dime, only your time.

  1. We don’t know the degree to which human connection can make a difference in someone’s life. For some, it could be the only positive, human interaction they’ve had that day.  A simple, sincere exchange of a smile can light up someone’s life and give them hope to go on.
  2. Take the time to find out where your presence would be appreciated, like a nursing home or a children’s ward in a local hospital.
  3. Perform random acts of kindness. This can be as simple as reaching for an item at the grocery store that someone is struggling to reach. It can also be handing a meal to a homeless person, sitting on the sidewalk.  That’s better than just handing them money.  Tip your server well for good service. All this takes is a few extra bucks out of your pocket, yet could make a huge difference to that person.  When we go out of our way to do something, it gives us a much greater sense of accomplishment and a warm feeling in our heart that we affected someone’s life, in a positive way.
  4. Show appreciation. There’s no better feeling than to see someone light up when you express your appreciation for something someone said or did. Let that person know how you feel by paying them a sincere compliment. Your sincerity will be truly felt.
  5. Be present. So often, we are on auto-pilot and go through our days and wonder where the day went. That is a day lost. None of us know how many days we have. Do we really want to “lose” a day? No, we do not. This is the most difficult act for most of us. Whether you’re one to one with someone or in a group, pay attention to what is being said. Make sure, whoever is speaking, knows you are listening. People want to be heard which then brings validation.  They want to know that someone cares, that you care.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings. In this day and age where many walk around with their head in their phones, too much is missed. You could make a difference by lending a helping hand to someone in need. Your awareness and assistance could be something as small as helping someone pick up the contents of a grocery bag that split open or it could be a life or death situation.

I conclude this article with two quotes that sum up the above very well.

You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.-Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.-John F. Kennedy

Live each day in gratitude and find ways to give a part of you to make this world a better place.

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