On Thursday, many of us experienced a Thanksgiving that was different from ones we had enjoyed in the past. Some of us may have stayed home instead of traveling, others had a smaller gathering than usual, and a few of us may have been responsible for more cooking this year than in past years! I suspect that in this unusual year, many of us were more reflective than we would have been in years past, perhaps thinking about what we were missing and being even more thankful for the things that are truly important to us.
This was our first Thanksgiving without my grandmother (we called her Mimi), who passed away at age 95 in April. She was a wonderful woman who lived with a spirit of generosity, gratefulness, and hospitality. As I reflect on the memories of my Mimi, I realized that I have so many good memories of her because of the generous spirit that characterized her life. I have memories of many sleepovers at her home, the creamed pearl onions that were passed around the table multiple times during Thanksgiving dinner and the times she spent with our entire family in Ocean City, New Jersey, in the summer.
These are fond memories, but my most lasting memories of Mimi are not event-based; they are relationship-based. I remember how she would end every phone call telling me how proud of me she was (as I am sure she genuinely told all her grandchildren). I remember making her laugh easily, and I remember admiring the faith she demonstrated throughout her entire life. I am thankful that when I recall these memories, and my tears still well up, I do so with a smile. I can smile because of the generous way my Mimi poured into me and into others.
As you reflect on the upcoming year, think of ways you can be generous as you relate to others. Your family will not remember the gifts you gave or the meals you cooked in the same way they will remember the love and care you showed them. Your friends will not be as excited about the restaurant where you ate together as much as they will appreciate the hand you put on their shoulder when they needed strength. Your community will not remember the year-end donation you made as much as the positive change you effected in someone’s life.
How can you be generous in the way you relate to others this year?