The author with her boys on Election Day in the USA.
I have giving on the brain.
We’re heading into the season for it in America, though I’ve never understood why we tend to pack all of our giving into the last couple of months of the year. Are we trying to make ourselves feel better before the calendar changes? Are we making up for what we lacked during the firs 10 months of the year?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could just be thankful every day of the year? We could even make big turkey dinners and drink peppermint-flavored coffee whenever we desire. We could actively spend time with those that mean the most to us, send cards and give gifts of love.
I try to live my life this way, but I’m guilty of getting wrapped up in the craziness of everyday life as a single working mom.
It’s been an emotional week. If you’re American – even if you are not – you’ve no doubt felt it too. I’ve personally gone through disbelief, anger, sadness, confusion and frustration. I’ve had some interesting conversations with my kids, and I’ve promised (myself and my kids) to take action if / when necessary. I always tell my boys that we have a voice, but no one will hear it if we don’t use it.
Along with our voice, we also need to pay attention, listen and ask questions.
I am reminded of a call I received at work a few weeks back. As a director of development for my local homeless prevention organization, I work with a lot of donors. The man who called me said he was on our website. He appreciated our work in the community and wanted to help. He saw our general wish list of items we typically need and called to ask what items were on the top right at that moment.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciated his call. I thanked him and told him we really needed diapers, size 4 specifically, for a mom our case manager was working with on an outreach basis. He came into the office within an hour to drop off 4 pick packages of diapers, which I then dropped off to our homeless shelter. He made an immediate, positive impact in someone’s life and made my job a little easier that day.
All he did was take some time to do a little research and make a phone call to ask a question.
A few weeks before that phone call, I received a message from a woman who called simply to thank me for calling her to let her know that I could not take a donation she wanted to make. She appreciated that I took the time to call her back and even try to give her some suggestions as to where she might take her donation.
When did we get to the point that these phone calls are unusual? Where asking what someone else needs or telling someone no thank you is met with surprise.
I’m a big proponent of finding simple ways to give every day. So much so that I wrote a book about it. Simple, kind gestures can make a difference in other people’s lives. And though it may not seem like it, you don’t know what kind of positive impression you may have made with your action.
In my book, I talk about how acts of kindness can be a pathway to even more giving. It feels good and makes you want to spread more positivity. It seems fitting that last Sunday was World Kindness Day. It also happened to be a day that seemed to be flooded with hilarious Joe Biden memes.
As moms, it’s our job to show our kids how to be kind and tolerant of others while also knowing when to use our voice to stand up for what we believe in.
I think we could all use some positivity and kindness right about now, no matter what part of the world we are in.
I don’t know what will happen in America moving forward, but I do know that now, more than ever, we need to pay attention, listen, ask questions and make our voices heard. We need more kindness and more willingness to understand the needs and beliefs of others. Not just during the giving season or in an election year. Every day of the year.
This is an original post by Jennifer Iacovelli for World Moms Network.
Do you have any good simple giving or daily acts of kindness stories? Please share them with us!
On November 26, 2015, here in the USA there was a celebration. It is called Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is celebrated by many Americans as a day when the ‘Injuns and pilgrims feasted together in harmony’. When possible, families gather to spend the day eating a plenteously-sized meal, and go over the things for which they are thankful.
When I came to the U.S. I heard of a couple of stories behind the meaning of Thanksgiving. I heard it marked a day in American history when pilgrims came from England and after having being helped to plant food by some Natives, they all gathered and had a big feast with the first harvest. I was also told that there was an exchange in which the Natives gave the English food like wild game, and the English gave the Natives blankets contaminated with smallpox which wiped out almost an entire First Nation. So it is that without researching further, I knew I didn’t want to celebrate this particular thanksgiving day without looking into its history first. I was okay with my family gathering, eating good food, and giving thanks for all that I had. I just wasn’t about giving thanks for the planned killing of anyone.
During the course of my life I have figured out that I am too idealistic. I am also fairly optimistic, so saying that I am ‘too’ idealistic feels wrong. However, as life has proven, I am too much of an idealist. That’s okay; I am still staying true to that for I am sure there is purpose in it, and I am rewiring some other thinking patterns. All this to say, that by the time I heard of the smallpox story, I knew there was a great chance that this had actually happened. The idealist in me immediately asked why any human would cause suffering and death to his fellow, but Sophia the realist started going down a list of atrocities that she knew about, that would make this new information less shocking.
The research I did before was in books I do not recollect the titles of. I presently did some more research, though, and I came across a story that an educator put together so the truth about the First Thanksgiving day may be shared with elementary school-aged children. With this story there were books cited and more information given in a more graphic manner than that written for young children.
I read the article and I leave it to you to read it as well. As I scrolled down and read more, I read the following paragraph and immediately I thought about the current situation in Syria, its people who are fleeing war seeking refuge amongst other human beings, and how many of said other humans are responding to this need. This paragraph reminds us of the history of U.S. Americans’ Anglo-Saxon ancestors, and so it is ironic that any of their descendants should feel okay saying Syrian refugees aren’t welcome to this land.
“….The Puritan “Pilgrims” who came to New England were not simply refugees who decided to “put their fate in God’s hands” in the “empty wilderness” of North America, as a generation of Hollywood movies taught us. In any culture at any time, settlers on a frontier are most often outcasts and fugitives who, in some way or other, do not fit into the mainstream of their society. This is not to imply that people who settle on frontiers have no redeeming qualities such as bravery, etc., but that the images of nobility that we associate with the Puritans are at least in part the good “P.R.” efforts of later writers who have romanticized them.(1) It is also very plausible that this unnaturally noble image of the Puritans is all wrapped up with the mythology of “Noble Civilization” vs. “Savagery….” Chuck Larsen quoting Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., “The White Man’s Indian”.
We were driving by downtown the other day (what city is irrelevant) and saw people standing by the side of the road with signs reading ‘Refugees are not welcome here’. Immediately my mind rewound to when outcasts from England came here, and it is their descendants who are now standing on the side of the street saying they don’t want refugees here. These current refugees aren’t even outcasts, they are simply people who are no longer safe in the country they know as home. I say this very simply because I cannot pretend to understand what Syrians and all people in the middle of war zones are going through. Many Americans can afford to feel so detached because the war isn’t on American soil. However, we are at war, and the side of war we do not see here, is the side where there are humans who are suffering and dying. It’s easy to not put ourselves in other people’s shoes when we don’t see or know what they are going through. To feel anything but heartbreak or anger when seeing footage of women, children, and men being carried…body parts dangling, faces torn…. of children’s bodies washing up on shore or lined up with other dead children’s bodies… to know that there are humans who feel something other than heartbreak or anger, and who instead feel good as if these ‘strange people from a foreign country’ deserve it, is heartbreaking! It’s the kind of thing that makes me ashamed of being human. We have become so accustomed to these imaginary lines dividing our world, that we believe they are actually real. Otherwise, how could we feel anything but compassion for a father trying to find refuge for his remaining family?
I know I think too ideally. I know this. And I also know that because of this I tend to leave challenging questions and conversations alone. Truth is, though, that as a person I am hurt every time I see a sign/banner, a meme, or other social media image, saying something negative about a refugee. It’s like there is no compassion and history is forgotten. Actually… history isn’t forgotten. History is re-written; which is why the truth about Thanksgiving is not told in schools. It is changed a little, and changed a little more, until it is just the nice Pilgrims and the Indians who were sharing a nice harvest feast. This is why people forget where they came from, and this is part of the reason why when it comes to deciding whether or not we would welcome a refugee into our city or country, we feel comfortable and proud in saying “No, refugees are not welcome here!”
Ultimately my point is this: We are human. All of us. Chinese, Kenyan, Norwegian, Sioux, Japanese, Syrian, Mexican, Goan, etc… etc… etc…
We are all… human. How dare we not extend our hand in support of our fellow human in need?
Let’s not forget where we have come from, and let’s work together to build a better humanity. For those of us feeling a bit more self-assisting than altruistic (for whatever the reason), it may be good to remember that helping another person makes us feel good inside. If we were to die the moment after helping another living thing (human or otherwise), maybe our sincere moment of kindness would redeem us from other times when we weren’t so kind. Thus it is that extending our hand to someone in need is a win-win.
Hopefully, if there ever comes a time when we need help, someone will reach out and say “Come, you are welcome here.”
Are you and idealist or a realist? How do you feel it affects how you think about world issues?
Photo credit to Rakel Sánchez
. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.
Typically, after Thanksgiving in the United States, the following Friday and Monday, known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, kick off the holiday shopping season. Black Friday, in the stores and Cyber Monday, online. However, Giving Tuesday follows and is what now kicks off the holiday “Giving Season.” This movement has been around for several years already.
With so much poverty around the world, the fact that a movement, based entirely on the giving of time and money, is gaining momentum gives me great hope. Did you know that you do not just have to give money on Giving Tuesday? You can, instead, donate your time. This means many more of us can get involved.
How great is a movement that the whole world can participate in as a collective unit with one goal in mind: to give?
So take today to think about the something you want to change most in the world. And give. Give of your money. Give of your time. Give only what you can. From around the world to your local community, find out how you can participate today, Tuesday, December 1st.
As each year of Giving Tuesday goes by, more and more organizations are getting involved, which plays at my heart strings. For example, here, in Canada this is the first year that Waterloo Region in Canada will be launching Giving Tuesday in an official manner. The community is rallying around local groups and causes in a way that I would never have imagined!
Let’s kick off the giving season and make this the most memorable Giving Tuesday the world has known to date.
A Note From our Founder:
Today, World Moms Blog asks our readers to consider volunteering, donating and/or advocating for these 4 organizations that have been created by our contributors or employ them. Click on over to see why they are worthy of your #GivingTuesday love!
- Mom2Mom Africa helps to educate and provide a better life for children in Tanzania. What started as a penpal project of a mom in Canada, turned into an education sponsorship program, a school being built, class trips provided and much more!
- Cleanbirth.org, which helps to provide a safer birth experience for mothers in Laos through clean birth kits and nurse midwife training. Started by an American mom who pledged to single-handedly take on poor maternal health statistics.
- The Advocates for Human Rights is the workplace of our resident contributor and human rights lawyer. The organization provides opportunities to volunteer, donate and/or advocate for their life saving and life changing work to help people worldwide.
- Edesia makes Plumpy’Nut which helps provide nutrition for children who need it most in the developing world. And did you know that our Managing Editor works there in digital media?
Tell us what you’re doing for Giving Tuesday…
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor, Alison Fraser, in Canada.
Starting midway through November, the green and red and white streamers appear; houses are bedecked with sparkling lights and buildings attempt to out-bling each other in outrageous green, red and white displays. Festive lights and decorations sprout along streetlights and across shop windows and children get restless in school waiting for the holiday.
Except the red-white-and-green don’t signify Christmas but the UAE National Day, which is celebrated on December 2nd and commemorates the day forty-two years ago when the rulers of seven different fiefdoms signed a constitution and became the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Zayed, the leader of Abu Dhabi and the first President of the UAE, died in 2004 and his likeness is everywhere on National Day. For those of you in the United States, imagine if George Washington or Thomas Jefferson had died only ten years ago and you’ll have some sense of Zayed’s very long shadow.
For three years now, I’ve experienced a kind of cultural dissonance around National Day, as its colors and lights intersect in my mind with images of New York gussying itself up for the winter holidays. True, the UAE flag has a black stripe in it too, but when the buildings are lit up, they’re mostly lit up in what I think of as “Christmas colors.” In my Facebook stream (which as an expat sometimes almost seems like a real space rather than a virtual one), pictures of people celebrating Thanksgiving or decorating their tree bump up against pictures of cars wrapped in UAE flags and buildings displaying Zayed’s face in lights.
Abu Dhabi prides itself on being a relatively open culture; there are expats living here from almost every country in the world. The international population means that that the city is a smorgasbord of holiday traditions, from Ramadan to Diwali to Christmas; I have friends here who (quietly) celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days, as well.
The malls and shops reflect this cosmopolitan community but in sometimes disconcerting ways: holiday Christmas displays feature Santa on a camel, or Christmas trees draped with UAE flags. It does seem, as Thomas Friedman wrote several years ago, as if the world really is flat. Friedman is talking about economics rather than cultural traditions but I’m starting to think that we can’t really separate the one from the other. Eventually, it seems, we’re all going to be living in versions of the same place: a mall.
The other day, as we walked to the movie theater in the mall (in Abu Dhabi, everything is at some mall or other), past the prayer rooms and the Christmas trees and the UAE flags, my younger son said “How come people fight about religion?” I didn’t have an answer and he’s not yet old enough to be able to appreciate the irony inherent in his question: that in the “Middle East”, a phrase (and place) that still scares many people in the West, my son seems to be learning that different cultural practices can co-exist — not always comfortably but nevertheless without violence.
So happy National Christmas day to you all: may Santa (or whomever) ride his camel to your house and leave you white, red, green, and black striped gifts, and may you all have a happy new year, no matter which calendar you’re using.
This is an original post for the World Mom’s Blog by Deborah Quinn.
Photo credit to the author.
This year, we have a unique occurrence, Thanksgivvukah. (Yes, I know that by now the phrase is probably coming out of your ears.) There are debates as to whether Thanksgivukkah is a once in a 70,000 year event or a once in a decade event. Either way, the last time it happened was 1888 and I doubt any of us will be around for the next one.
The Jewish month of Kislev, the month in which Chanukkah occurs, is considered a month of miracles. It’s a month that serves as a reminder to actively do something to banish the darkness from our lives and be a light unto others and the world.
Last night was the first night of the 8 day Jewish holiday of Chanukkah and tonight is the American holiday of Thanksgiving.
I’m grateful for the unique convergence of the two holidays because I think that the message of Chanukah and Thanksgiving is really the same; practice gratitude, practice kindness and be the love you wish to receive. That is the only way to banish the darkness from this world and spread the glow of goodness to the farthest corners of the earth.
So in honor of Thanksgivukkah here are some ideas for making the world a better place.
Embrace the Thanksgiving tradition of practicing gratitude, but go one step further and practice it daily. Be grateful for all the gifts in your life be they big or small.
Embrace the Chanukkah tradition of spreading your light, your inner light, far and wide. I think that the best way to combine gratitude and being a light unto the world is to get into the habit of doing acts of kindness.
So here are ideas for 8 acts of kindness for 8 days of Chanukah, or for that matter, any day of the year.
Smile at everyone you pass
A smile costs you absolutely nothing and you never know what a potentially big impact a single smile can have on someone else’s day.
Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life
People don’t always realize the impact they have had on someone. Why not let them know?
Give someone a big hug
People need physical contact and hugs make (most) people feel good.
This is actually kindness that benefits you the most because forgiving is really for the forgiver.
Ask if you can help
Some people don’t know how to ask for help or don’t think there is anyone who can help them. It can be as simple as asking a parent with a screaming child in a grocery store if they need help or lending your expertise to someone who can benefit from it.
Offer to babysit for someone
Every parent knows that as much as we love our kids, sometimes we need some time apart. Give the gift of sanity to another parent.
Leave a note in a library book
A little note of kindness and encouragement left inside a library book can make all the difference to a struggling parent. Take a look at this amazing note my sister found tucked into the pages of a parenting book.
Listen, truly listen
Each and every one of us can learn how to listen better. Listen without thinking about what you are going to reply. Listen with an open mind and most importantly, an open heart. As Buddha said: “A thousand candles can be lit from the flame of one candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness can be spread without diminishing that of yourself.”
So Happy Chanukkah and Thanksgiving to everyone. This holiday season go out and be the light and light the way. Be the person whose act of kindness or love inspires other people to pay it forward and spread kindness and love. One person DOES have an impact, it all starts with the will to make a change.
What is your favorite act of kindness?
This is an original post by World Moms Blog Africa & Middle East Regional Editor, Susie Newday in Israel.
Photo credit to the author. (And to her sister.)
And just for fun, here is a Thanksgivukkah spoof. (If you don’t understand some of the words, they are probably in Hebrew. Just ask me in the comments and I will translate them if you want.)