Giving and Thanks

My friends are much nicer people than me, in general.

I was all set for a nice reclusive Thanksgiving for one… too pressed both financially and time-wise to make the trek home for turkey-day this year, I was looking forward to an anti-social holiday. Making a big bowl of mashed potatoes and some gravy and subsisting off of that, wine, and Doctor Who marathons (trying to up my nerd-credit, guys)… my plans were glorious and simple and selfish.

Then my friend, on her own for the holiday just one year after her divorce, asked if I had plans for Thanksgiving.

Sigh… I DID have plans (eating nothing but potatoes for three days straight is “plans“) but she offered me something even better. Something fundamentally selfish AND social.

She suggested we volunteer.

I really enjoy volunteering, although it’s not a regular occurrence for me. I have done a variety of so-called charitable activities in the past ranging from Habitat for Humanity to sorting medical supplies to food bank work.  I would like to volunteer more, but haven’t found a way to do it as a “party of one” that isn’t lonely/depressing/awkward.

(I will put that on my list of things to figure out/accomplish next year. If anyone has any suggestions of good volunteer activities for one, please let me know.)

But donating my time and effort is something I genuinely enjoy, and I honestly think it is an incredibly selfish endeavor. Why? Mostly because it makes me feel good. Simple as that. Giving feels good. Nothing more selfish than that.

We drove around a neighborhood in Denver I had never spent time in, delivering full Thanksgiving meals to 84 people in total. We were told this particular group would deliver approximately 3,000 meals that day. Pretty darn neat.

There were some definite highlights on our adventure:

  • The three cute little kids with big brown eyes who kept leaning out the door one by one to smile and wave goodbye to us.
  • The lady we delivered to who initially couldn’t hear the doorbell because she was rocking out and singing at the top of her lungs while cleaning.
  • The parents who were expecting their children and asked for the secret word before they would open the door. (It was “Gobble, Gobble”, FYI)
  • The absolutely adorable grandmother who insisted that she “is a hugger” and wouldn’t let us leave before we had been graced with kisses and hugs. Also her face felt like velvet and she smelled like grandma and I wanted to keep her forever.
  • The note left at one of the houses asking us if we were willing to deliver their meals instead to a shut-in couple down the street since they received a last minute invite. (We were and did)

There were so many wonderful little moments and smiles and thanks and kindnesses that I experienced on Thanksgiving. I felt all Grinch-ey, but how he is at the end of the story… my heart growing three times it’s size.

There is something so important about getting outside your comfort zone, and outside yourself, for a couple hours. Things are very quickly and easily put into scale and perspective. And I relished the completely selfish act of giving. I am hoping to make it an annual tradition and try to incorporate volunteering more actively into my life. Seriously, it’s easy to do and will fill your heart with sunshine and rainbows and daisies and kittens.

So it was a mellow, random, pseudo-social and surprising turkey day for me, dear internet…. an unexpectedly giving day to make me thankful indeed.

(I missed pumpkin pie for breakfast the next day… the only real fail of the whole shebang.)

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