Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving in Doha, Qatar

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends and family in the United States! What a day of food, fun and football! This is also a great time to remember all that we have to be thankful for in our lives. For me, this year I am most thankful for my parents who have taken on so many things for me to be able to come to Qatar and be on this wild adventure! Not only are they taking care of my loving cat, Marvin, but they are also minding my finances and sending me lots of care packages so that I don’t miss too much of home.

I am also very thankful for the love and support of friends. So many of you have kept in touch via Facebook, mail, Skype or emails which is such a blessing. Every time I connect with someone from home it makes me grateful for the connections I’ve made in this life that endure space and time. It also reminds me how thankful I am for today’s technology! My grandparents could have never imagined Skyping with someone on the other side of the world!

While I could easily fall into a woe-is-me thought process because I am not home for the holiday, I am far too blessed for that. God has me right where he wants me at this exact moment. I’ve spent many holidays away from family, so this is not a new thing for me, though being so far away and facing some of the challenges I face here it is a bit bittersweet this year. But I am choosing to focus on the blessings.

This time of year also reminds me of how fortunate I am to be an American…and an American that can afford to live comfortably, or at least have family and friends that would help me if needed. So many people in this world are hungry today. To think that there will be way too many leftovers and wasted food on American tables today is a bit sad. I wish somehow this world could figure out how to distribute the excess from one part of the world to another. I wish we could all share the benefits and reduce the struggles of our fellow mankind in the world.

On that note, I recently read a food blog written by a woman who lost her husband unexpectedly in August. She is doing her best to move forward and remember to be thankful for what she does still have in this life, as well as help others. (In Jennie's Kitchen for those that want to read her beautiful, yet heartbreaking journey.) She inspired me to ask of those with a little extra this Thanksgiving and Christmas Season to consider giving back.

Whether you support Small Business Saturday and support your local independent small businesses or simply spend a bit less at the major chains, this will go a long way in helping your local community. (Yeah, I know it’s sponsored by American Express, but you don’t have/need to use your credit card…in fact I would encourage you to spend within your budget!) Don’t forget that you favorite Mary Kay, Tastefully Simple, Party Lite or other independent consultant would love your business too.

You could volunteer at your local shelter to help those less fortunate than you. I remember making sandwiches one year for my local shelter in Reston, Virginia. That simple act of purchasing and making 60 sandwiches to be delivered to the shelter for their clients was immensely rewarding. I also was richly blessed when I went on a mission trip to Denver and worked with the homeless community for a week with D.O.O.R.. The people that you are able to bless are truly in need, whether it is because of a mental, physical illness or whether they battle addictions that have stolen their lives. Most of the people that go to shelters are keenly aware of their dire situation and just want a warm smile, listening ear and a bit of help. Find a local shelter in your community and get plugged in…not only during the holidays, but year-round.

You can also get involved with groups that volunteer year round. There are the biggies like Red Cross, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, but don’t forget the smaller ones too. The local Boys and Girls Club or your local high school’s booster club would probably gladly welcome a donation or the offer of you time to help. Also, if you’re already involved in a church, get involved with one of the ministries! Extra hands to help your community go a long way and you normally get a pretty decent blessing out of it too.

If you really want to keep things personal, offer to babysit during the holidays for that single mom/dad that you know so they can go shopping or get some rest one afternoon. Go hang lights or decorate for your elderly neighbor (and then take them down after the season!). Take a meal to a family that you know is barely making ends meet. Have coffee with that single gal/guy that is missing their family because they live far away. Smile at people while you’re out…it’s amazing how much this simple, free gesture can make a difference.

No matter what I hope that today and year-round you remember to be thankful, even when there are storms and struggles in your life. I am thankful for some of the struggles I’ve endured because they have made me the person I am today. While I don’t wish to ever face some of those struggles again, I also realize the blessings that came from them. Thank you God for always working things out for good.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Have an extra piece of pumpkin pie for me!

With Love,