This morning I woke up thinking about what today represents. To many is the day to have an excuse to overeat, party or drink. It’s also viewed as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends; nothing wrong with that. To some is another day at work. To some is the day to strategize about the next shopping spree to spend money that they don’t have to buy things they don’t need.
The holidays are not festive for everyone and I used to be sensitive to that. Even before the traditional holiday excitement started to elude me. When I used to own a house, my Thanksgiving weekend was dedicated to inviting over people who didn’t have someone who spend this time with. It was my way of giving back with gratitude for what I have.
Reminiscing on that memory I felt convicted. I haven’t stop being grateful for the blessings I continue to receive, but once I didn’t have a place big enough to entertain, I just stopped sharing what I had. I’m grateful every day for the life God has given me, the friends and family who have taken me in these years of selfishness. God has continue to provide and bless me every day and although I do share my blessings… This is one I need to get back to.
I remember a friend of mine who’s children were court ordered to spend the holidays with her ex-husband. She didn’t have family in town and instead of sitting at home having a pity party or feeling lonely she used her time to bless others. She thought about something she loved, babies. On holidays she would volunteer at a hospice with the babies. She would look after them to allow the parents the opportunity to go home to spend time with their other children, get some sleep or at least change clothes.
Are we using our gratitude to self indulge or to be a blessing?
Growing up I remembered the joy of Thanksgiving Day. I would wake up early to watch the Macy’s Day Parade, while my mother would be in the kitchen making our Thanksgiving meal. She cooked for our lunch as our neighbor across the street always brought us a plate from their meal for our dinner. So it was super neat. You got to eat turkey twice but different turkey and sides.
As an adult for some reason Thanksgiving was the highlight of the holidays for me. I was always invited somewhere for Christmas and we had a neighborhood tradition for New Years Eve, so I hosted every Thanksgiving. The day before, I cooked until late hours in the night. I made sure my Christmas tree was up because in my mind it was going to be my only chance for others to see it. It was a very exciting time.
I know times change, but there’s something very wrong about what I see starting to happen this year. I get the whole Black Friday thing. I’ve never participated and if you ever catch me at 2 am in the cold waiting for a store to open to buy anything, you have my full permission to commit me. But I do get the chase for a sale, the opportunity to buy things at a better price for the holidays (although those are not really sales, but that’s a different argument). However this year we have moved it to Thursday. There are stores that are opening all day on Thanksgiving Day for people to go buy stuff. Can’t we just wait a day?
I also understand that there’s people that rather be in the stores than at home with their families for whatever reason, but sometimes we have to think about others as well. This is a time to be thankful for everything we have, and sometimes we do not realize how much we DO have? If you’re reading this post, it means you have some kind of device and internet access to read it. It also means that you are literate, when there are tons of people without the ability to read. It means that you’re not blind, when some wish they could see anything. If you are standing by the door of a store or find yourself in one, it means you have means of transportation, that you have health, that you have money or balance on that credit card to make the purchase. Those are things to be thankful for. But you also have a choice, the person working at that store doesn’t.
When you sign up for a career as a doctor, a nurse, a fireman or a policeman you know that the job has no holidays. When you where hired for a retail store you expected that you could spend the holidays with your loved ones.
Do you remember the movie Scrooge? Do you remember Tim’s mom who was forced to go to work on Christmas Day out of her boss’ greed? She was a single mother trying to provide for her kids and all she wanted was some time with them. How many of those men and women we have taken from their families today over a sweater, a tablet or a television set that could have waited until tomorrow?
In case you’re missing it, this is what is really about:
Stay warm, be safe.
This year we will not be talking about the turkey, the history of this holiday or the thousands of things we are thankful about. The reality is that this year I want to encourage others to put their true attitude of gratitude to action.
We sit together as families and tell each other how grateful we are of the things we have, the love and company of those near us and just bask in the thought of the gratitude. How about this year you make a decision to be the force behind someone else’s gratitude? Why not share those blessings with others?
So here are some ideas to do just that:
- Invite over for dinner those who are away from their families. I used to do that for the longest time. Every one I knew that didn’t have a place to go, were invited to my house. The only reason I stopped doing it was because I don’t have the space to host anymore. It was such a rewarding experience.
- Cook a meal for a family in need. If you know someone in your neighborhood who has lost their job, have a family member sick or have struggling, take them a plate or a few plates. You very well know that after two days you’re going to hate turkey anyway. You’ll have less leftovers and you’ll have made someone’s day.
- Remember those who have lost everything-It doesn’t matter how big or small your donation is for those recovering from the damages of Hurricane Sandy, any little bit helps. Even if it’s not money, blood donations are also very welcome.
- Donate your time and talent. You may not have resources. but you can spend some of your day with someone who needs it. I had a friend who use to spend two hours on these kind of holidays going a children’s hospice. She’s a divorced mom and her children are with their father on Thanksgiving. As a mother she understands that when you have a sick child you don’t want to leave them alone. So she spends Thanksgiving mornings there giving parents an opportunity to go home to take a shower or go get something to eat and then in the afternoon she goes to celebrate with her family.
These are just a few examples of way to give back to others. I am sure you can come up with other ideas as well. What am I going to do to put my gratitude in action?
- I’m actually cooking healthy desserts for the place where I’m going to be reuniting with family and friends. I’m grateful that God had shown me a better way to relate to food. I know that as I reunite with some that have not seen me for a while I will be able to witness to them.
- I’m donating 50% of all my sales for both of my books Growth Lessons and The Road Home from today until Friday to the Red Cross to help the relief of Hurricane Sandy. (You can help me with that)
- I’m joining an initiative of authors in the South that are donating books to libraries in New York and New Jersey, for those who lost the books due to the hurricane Sandy.
Please be safe and to all a Happy Thanksgiving!!
Idea #15: Thank a Co-worker For Doing Their Job Well
Guest post by Shelley Hitz
Thanksgiving season is soon approaching and this year, I encourage you to take the opportunity to celebrate gratitude. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, take a moment (or two) to celebrate gratitude.
Don’t forget to check out the free book giveaway below.
Idea #15:Thank someone at work for doing their job well. If you are still in school or college, thank one of our teachers that has made an impact in your life.
See all 21 ways to celebrate gratitude this Thanksgiving at Shelley’s website: http://www.bodyandsoulpublishing.com/21-ways-to-celebrate-gratitude-during-thanksgiving-this-holiday-season/
Free Gratitude Resource:
On November 14, 15 and 16th, 2012 you can download a FREE Kindle copy of the book, “21 Stories of Gratitude: The Power of Living Life With a Grateful Heart.”
Get your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009YWM3WI
Are you living life to the fullest? Or are you merely surviving from day to day?
One way to live life to the fullest is to live each day with a grateful heart. In this book, we share 21 stories of gratitude to give you encouragement and hope in your own journey. Gratitude is possible! Even though many times we cannot change our circumstances, we can change the way we see them. We can ask God to empower us to change our thoughts.
Our prayer for you is that you find encouragement within these pages. And we pray that you will ask God for His strength to renew your mind with His truth and the hope He offers each one of us every day. It is only through Christ renewing our minds that we can truly live each day with a grateful heart.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Other Gratitude Resources:
· 21 Days of Gratitude Challenge: Take the 21 days of gratitude challenge to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. You can do this by yourself or as a family.
· 21 Prayers of Gratitude: Read a prayer of gratitude for 21 days to focus your heart on God and all He has given us.
About the Author:
Shelley Hitz has been writing and publishing books since 2008. She is also the author of the website, FindYourTrueBeauty.com, that reaches thousands of girls each month around the world. Her openness and vulnerability as she shares her own story of hope and healing will inspire and encourage you.
Shelley has been ministering to teens since 1998 alongside her husband, CJ. They currently travel and speak to teens and adults around the country. Shelley’s main passion is to share God’s truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others. She does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements.
Recently the stores are not waiting even for October to start putting out Christmas things for us to buy. I started seeing lights, trees and ornaments as early as the summer. I remember when Christmas used to start closer to Thanksgiving, now the preparations are beginning right after the fireworks of the fourth of July.
However, the sights of Christmas decorations don’t make me think of festivities. It does remind to prepare for the celebration of the birth of My Lord and Savior, but that’s on my spiritual side. As a writer it starts to get my juices flowing for the event that I look forward all year around.
I have never been the athletic type. When I was taking journalism courses in college I took some sports journalism classes because I was determined to live vicariously by those with the gift of athletic ability. At that time, my dream was to cover the Olympic Games or the Superbowl as a journalist. But the Word says that you shall ask and you will receive and as a writer now I have a yearly Superbowl of my own… NaNoWriMo!
The coolest thing is that I don’t have to go through eliminations or rigorous exercises or a qualifying process to participate in my “Superbowl” All I have to do is go to www.nanowrimo.org and register for free… what an awesome thing! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s the challenge to write a novel of 50k words or more in the month of November. Talk about an adrenaline rush.
This will be my fourth year. If you want to try it, you still have time. It doesn’t start until tonight at midnight. If you’re like me, you will be at 11:55pm with laptop in hand looking at the watch and the fingers ready to start. However, I have a dilemma that all of you can help me with. I have two stories to choose from to write this year and I can’t make up my mind on which one to write. Remember I have to start writing it tonight so your votes need to be casted ASAP.
A couple who’s been married for 18 years start struggling with the wife’s sudden desire for freedom and her infidelities. Can this marriage be restored? Can a praying husband bring his wife back to Christ?
Story 2: Greetings from Saint Nick- Murder-Mystery Christian Fiction
This is the sequel of Seasons Greeting from Amelia (Novella coming out December 14th) (Background on the Amelia Novella- Amelia and Daisy are high school friends. Daisy starts finding random letters from Amelia in her house, but Amelia is nowhere to be found. In each letter Amelia confesses to her best friend some of her crimes and leaving clues of the crimes she’s about to commit. Can Amelia be stopped? )
Then in Greetings from Saint Nick, Nicholas is Amelia’s son, now in college. Estelle, Daisy’s daughter, suspects that Nicholas is following in his mother’s footsteps, but nobody believes her. Is it true? Is Estelle just imagining things?
These will not be the covers for the actual books once they come up for publication. I just did these for fun.
I would love your opinion and looking forward to starting my writing “ Superbowl” tonight”
After eating a week’s worth of food in one sitting, remembering why you don’t call your Aunt Molly the rest of the year and standing in the cold outside pushing through the crowd to get a towel for 99 cents, it’s time to settled down and refocus. Yes it was fun or stressful but was it really what it was all about?
If you didn’t have the opportunity between pies, turkey and the sales, you have another chance today to just stop for five and a half minutes and understand how blessed we are.
Author Kristen Lamb said on her blog on Wednesday about the things she was thankful for and I wanted to share those because it really places things in perspective.
“I am thankful for all the laundry I have to do, because it means I have clothes to wear.
I am thankful for the dishes that need washing, because it means I didn’t go hungry.
I am thankful for the big electric bill, because it means my home has lights and heat.
I am thankful for the sheets that need to be changed, because it means I own a bed.
I am thankful for all the reading I have to do, because it means that I am literate.
I am thankful for the car that needs an oil change because it means I don’t have to walk miles and miles to get what I need.
I am thankful for that parking space waaaaayyyy out in the back, because it means I don’t have to park in a handicapped space. I can walk.
I am thankful for the garage that needs to be cleaned out, because it means I am blessed with plenty.
I am thankful for the chores to be done, because it means I have family who love me enough to travel to see me.
I am thankful for the litter-box that needs cleaning and the dog blankets that need washing because it means I have pets who love me unconditionally.
I am thankful for the split ends I have, because it means I haven’t lost all my hair to chemo.
I am thankful for the Christmas cards I need to send, because they could as easily be funeral announcements.
I am thankful for the traffic snarls that catch me, because the body the firemen pulled out of the fatality accident could have been me.
I am thankful for the gutters I need to clean, because it means that I have a home.
I am thankful for all the Christmas shopping I have to do, because it means I am not alone.
I am thankful for my less than perfect thighs. It means I didn’t lose my legs in a car accident or to an IED.
I am thankful that I sometimes have doubts and confusion about my future and my purpose when I think of the lives cut short before they ever had a future.
I am thankful for the government I like to gripe about, because I don’t fear going to prison or being shot if I disagree with my country’s leadership.
I am thankful for my freedom and the amazing men and women who put their lives on the line to protect it.”
So sit with me and enjoy this video that also places in perspective the things we need to be grateful for and sometimes take for granted.
May this so called Black Friday shines the light of God in you. As a token of my gratitude to all my readers I’m giving away two copies of my new book Growth Lessons. So if you comment on this page, post this link on your Facebook page or tweet (#99centevent #blackfriday Growth Lessons @NatyCMatos http://tinyurl.com/3pzxopg RT & you could win free copy #book #giveaway) I’ll put your name in a hat and you can win the copy of the book.
If you tweet more than once, your name will go in as many times as you tweet it! The same with the Facebook postings. The winner will be announced on Monday here at The Rising Muse, so you have all weekend to increase your chances.
Enjoy your family and be safe
God bless you!
This is our last Reader’s Choice post for 2011. I want to start by thanking those who participated in. I will be sending you a little surprise on your e-mails, be on the lookout.
The question and very fitting for the holiday we are celebrating this week is, how did the Thanksgiving festivities evolved from the original festivities to what we do today? We were taught in school that pilgrims and Indians sat together with turkey and pumpkin pies and had a friendly meal together. History says it wasn’t quite like that.
So how did it happen?
It is said that the very first harvest feast between Indians and colonist was celebrated in 1621. The colonist arrived in the Mayflower the prior year. Not having the survival skills to whether the winter they stayed in the ship, but many were very sick and malnourished. The Indians (Squanto, a returned slaved who knew English and others) taught them how to cultivate corn, avoid poisonous plants and help them forge an alliance with a local tribe for their survival. So when everything the Indians taught them proved to be true and beneficial the colonist decided to celebrate a three day feast.
And they ate turkey?
Yeah, not quite; the exact menu is unknown. We know there were lobsters,
seals, swans and wild turkeys amongst the meats of choice. Personally I’m upset that we kept up with the turkey and not the lobster, nothing against the turkey, I love it…just a preference.
What it is known is that there were not all those pies that we currently eat. First of all the Native American didn’t eat much sugar and the sugar supply from the Mayflower had dwindled down by then, so no dessert.
So how did we get to the point where we are now?
From History.com “In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.”
The bottom line is that currently we use Thanksgiving as the designated day to gather with family and friends, to remember the things that we are thankful for. It’s a good time to do inventory of all our blessings and realize that we have way more than we acknowledge some times.
For me, I’m grateful to be loved by the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord of Lord, the King of Kings, my beautiful Jesus. I’m grateful for the family He has given me, for my gifts and talents. I thank Him for my friends and for the special people in my life. I am grateful for all my experiences, the good and the bad that have made me who I am. I’m grateful for my readers who have become my friends and source of inspiration. And of course for the four-legged child that’s curled up on my feet as I write this post, she’s my daily joy and reminder of what unconditional love looks like.
As always I love to hear from you. What things are you grateful for this year? What little and big blessings make your life meaningful?
Join Naty Matos and 9 of her author friends at Women’s Literary Cafe’s Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!
…and we shall surrender to the fire that runs through our veins. We shall abandon it all for the upmost desire, the one that will allow the adrenaline to run, the words to entangle and the body to stop breathing…
Oops! I had not seen you there! I’m just getting ready for tomorrow…well tonight. NaNoWriMo starts right at 12:00am and I’ll be ready. I did my last trip to the store to stock on goodies for the month.
By now, some of you have gone to your kick off parties and have received tons of tips and advise from experienced Wrimos, but just in case let me do for you a virtual Nano Prep-Kit:
Icy Hot is your friend- I discovered that during my second Nano. When you are going to many write-ins and having many word wars your wrist become unhappy, but you need to continue writing to get through that word count. It works like magic…it does smell, but it’ll wake you up to make you write some more.
Fill your pantry with hot pockets and ramen noodles- it’s not because of budget reasons. You don’t have too much cooking time. Save your grocery money for your write-ins and take that opportunity for a good meal, but unless you have someone else cooking at home… you need to do something quick. You have writing to do! Remember to buy frozen meals for your family if you’re the one in charge of meals…it’s against the law to cook in November for Wrimos…I tried to warn you!
Coffee– This is vital, you don’t need sleep. You can sleep in December. November is for writing. We will allow you a quick nap here and there so you don’t hallucinate…although that may help your story.
The rules for Thanksgiving– I use to host Thanksgiving every year at my home. Nano broke me out of that bad habit really quick. Now I allow others the opportunity to cook for three days and have their houses to clean afterwards and I offer to bring dessert; which will be carefully made by a local supermarket. Lessons to be learned.
Treats- buy your favorite treats and reward yourself after different milestones in your word count. Also buy your kids, dog, cat or all of the above new toys and treats so that they have something to do while you’re writing.
SAVE YOUR WORK!-Omg! You have no idea how many times we have lost thousands of words, full pages and some have lost their whole work because someone accidentally clicked on the wrong button, the cat decided to crawl over the keyboard, the baby thought the keys looked appealing, the computer decided to die…the thought alone gives me a panic attack. But do not fret. The other thing I’ve learned is about dropbox.com It’s a free storage place for your documents and pictures. You can access it from any computer as long as you have internet access. You can even access it from your Ipad and IPhone. So if the computer dies your novel doesn’t go to the grave with it…but not even dropbox can save the novel for you. Do not trust auto save…every 15 minutes or so hit the save button, it takes 1 second and it will save you from a heart attack or pulling your hairs out.
I finally want to say that I’m very excited as this year I’ll be hosting some write-ins for NaNoWriMo. YAY! Look in the nanowrimo.org site and go to the forums to find out when there will be a write-in close to you. It’s a great experience. For those Pandas in the Atlanta Area that will be going to the write-ins hosted by ‘therisingmuse” look out for these two cute faces.
I can’t believe November is around the corner. It’s finally not a hundred and five degrees. I was able to sit outside without the fear of melting. The stores ahead of the game as always have already all the Christmas things out, but the best thing is that it’s Nanowrimo time!
For those who don’t know what Nanowrimo is, it’s the National Novel Writing Month. It’s where thousands of writers abandon themselves into the crazy challenge of writing a novel of 50,000 words or more in just the month of November. This will be my third year doing Nano, but different that my prior years, I have no clue of what I will be writing about.
Us Wrimos (Nano writers) are doing all sorts of preparations at this time. This is our Super bowl, our All Star Game, the moment we wait for all year long. Wrimos are starting to pre-cook meals for their starving families, taking pictures of themselves as that’s all their families are going to see, blocking their calendars from other social events other than our write-ins (meetings of wrimos to write in public places)and buying extra underwear as there will be no time for laundry during the month of November. We will only stop for two hours on Thanksgiving because we need to be thankful to God for our lives, our muse and the turkey and then back to writing.
Do I have many wrimos out there? Do you have a plan set in place? I would love to hear from you.
Let every word count.
- It’s Almost Time For NaNoWriMo! (quirkygurl.com)