This is the first year where we’re feeling like we can creep past bare minimum mode – just a single toe over the line, honestly – and attempt to do a little something extra for Thanksgiving.
I’m not hosting or even cooking all that much this year, so no doubt that inflates my sense of wellbeing. If you have a nursing baby who is under 6 months old, are pregnant, are postpartum to any sort of baby at all, have a child with special needs, a husband who works 120 hours a week, etc etc etc, then just stop reading and look away, you’re already maxed out on awesome acts of service.
If you are a mom to older kids and have this thing down already, then won’t you tip your hand and let us freshman have a peek at what you do to help your kids connect with the deeper meaning of this special holiday?
In years past, our friends who live closer to downtown Denver have bundled up early in the morning and brought Starbucks to the homeless people who congregate near the cathedral. I love that idea, but we’re a little far out in the suburbs to execute it. We do have some homeless people around, but no specific concentration where we could seek them out. It’s more like you’ll see someone at an intersection here or there. Our parish food pantry hosted a frozen turkey drive…yesterday. So that’s a miss for us, too.
I conducted a casual poll of mom friends asking for ideas and came away with some good suggestions: bringing treats to homeless people, passing out coffee, delivering donuts or sandwiches, handing out breakfast burritos, going to a park with hand warmers, hats and mittens, assembling blessing bags, etc. to distribute to panhandlers at intersections and freeway on ramps.
Some businesses will donate their products if you ask. A few businesses my friends said they’d had success partnering with:
Jimmy Johns: will sell day their day old loaves for $.50 a piece
Starbucks: will sometimes donate coffee with advance notice; will provide creamer, sugar, cups and lids at no charge when you order a coffee traveler
Dunkin Donuts: will sometimes donate with advance notice
Krispy Kreme: will donate day old donuts with advance notice
I’m guessing many fast casual chains and coffee places would be willing to donate, especially bread places like Panera, etc, where if they don’t sell that day’s offering, they aren’t able to sell it the next morning.
I love the idea of giving food at Thanksgiving, especially since it tends to be a time when we as Americans overdo it in the consumption department. I also think it’s a super relatable way of doing charity with kids. Kids understand being hungry. Kids understand having an empty tummy, and the immediate gratification of someone handing you something good to eat because they love you.
If the idea of serving on Thanksgiving itself is overwhelming, I think taking back Black Friday as a day to serve instead of shop is pretty awesome.
I’d really like to take our kids to a nursing home or retirement community to visit with the residents and provide a little comic relief. I worked at a nursing home while I was in grad school, and it made a lasting impression on me. Most of my residents just wanted someone to talk to, and would light up whenever a child – especially a baby – came onsite. Many lived far from their families and had visitors only once a year, or even less frequently than that. It was so life giving for them to just sit and visit with someone, even if it was only me or one of the other staff members. I will never forget the kind of relational poverty I witnessed there. Now here I sit with a bumper crop of my own children and I’ve yet to make good on my vow to return and visit nursing homes one day when I became a mom. Maybe this year’s the year.
Finally, I don’t want to rule out serving within the home itself. Especially where little kids are involved, I’m forever underestimating what they’re capable of, and they’re forever surprising me with their competence. (Well, and other things. There are other surprises, too.)
Inviting them to set the table, peel potatoes, peel and cut apples for pie, fill a pot with water, use a pitcher to fill water glasses at the dining table, etc are all valuable and super #Montessoriandyouknowwhat ways to let kids participate in and contribute to the family economy, and not just for the holidays.
So I’m all ears guys, what does your family do that has become a tradition? What are you hoping to try out this year? Have you had any memorable flops, like taking toddlers to the soup kitchen and violating food safety standards (ahem Luke cough cough)? Anything you’d do again? Anything you’d advise against, at all costs?