The holidays are rapidly approaching. They rush toward us with an expectation of getting noticed. Thanksgiving and Christmas meld together as consumerism reaches a feverish pitch as the weeks of November drift into December. Black Friday becomes Black Thanksgiving Night, and soon there will no Thanksgiving pause before the madness begins.
I am thinking about this as I am flying to see my oldest daughter, my son-in-law and my new granddaughter. My daughter’s birthday is November 20. We almost always celebrate her birthday, and then our family joins us for Thanksgiving Day. It is her favorite holiday. Mine too.
As our family has grown, so have the number of tables added to the end of our dining table to make room for young and old alike. It is a happy place for me to see my children all gathered in one place. I am so thankful for their presence. The chatter of multiple conversations taking place at once is music to my ears. Yes, I am thankful.
Families build traditions around holidays, and ours was no different. A few years ago, this same daughter lived in Finland. However, her boyfriend, now her husband, is from Italy. During one Thanksgiving week, I flew to see her and celebrate with her both her birthday and our favorite holiday. In the beautiful Northern city of Bergamo, I met his family and fell in love. They are a big family with great love. Though I didn’t speak Italian, nor did they speak English, it didn’t keep us from sharing a wonderful time.
I appreciated the love that was expressed by my daughter and her new future family. I can only imagine the effort that went into that Thanksgiving meal. Unlike the frozen turkeys that nearly tumble from the freezers in our grocery stores, a whole turkey is not that easy to find in this small city in November.
Dinner time arrived, and the turkey was presented with lit candles as though it were a birthday cake, and we were delighted. A Thanksgiving tradition was started, and to this day, one son-in-law fries the turkey and the other presents it to the table with candles.
Yes, traditions are built as bonds are formed. One of my favorite traditions was told to me by a woman that I met on a trip to Israel. It truly embodies the words Thanks and giving. Each member of the family is given a certain amount of dollars to give away. From the very young to the very old, each is given the opportunity to give that money to a ministry or organization that they believe impacts the community, the nation, or the world in a positive manner. At Christmas, they share their giving strategy and its impact. It is giving at its best.
Giving traditions such as these teach the truth to even the very young that it is better to give than to receive. Giving to others indwells the giver with a unique joy that cannot be reproduced.
The stillness of Thanksgiving is followed by the frenetic motion of the pre-Christmas holiday shopping days: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and then the unexpected day arrives. It is called Giving Tuesdays.
What a refreshing day to follow in the spirit of Thanks-giving. In 2012, the genesis of Giving Tuesday took place at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. A simple idea of a day for doing good is now a global movement of giving generously. Hundreds of millions choose this day to experience the joy of giving.
In my own life, my husband and I have discovered that giving our time and our money to charities both locally, nationally, and internationally has enriched our lives more than we could have imagined. We choose our goals for the upcoming year based on what we can give away rather than what we can earn. We recently were taught by a couple from Houston, TX, whose business has grown exponentially and unexplainably by not only developing a giving goal but a “stretch” giving goal. We are incorporating this stretch goal for 2022. We don’t do this to receive more in return but rather to increase the excitement of joyful giving.
As you look forward to the holidays and your own traditions, may I encourage you to consider enjoying the giving in your Thanksgiving traditions? Use Giving Tuesday and the month of December to give, and the holiday season will deliver the gifts of merry and bright to your heart.
If your family has a holiday tradition that you would like to share, please include it in the comments. We would love to hear from you and yours.
Finally, there are many amazing charities to give to but if you want to join me in bringing school lunches to children in need, just follow this link: Africa New Life Food Is Campaign.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/SARINYAPINNGAM
Dr. Pamela Prince Pyle is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine physician who studied at Oklahoma State University, North Texas Health Science Center, and completed her training at Baylor University in Houston. She was one of three physicians selected in 1992 by Carolina Health Specialists (CHS) to begin the first hospital-based internal medicine practice outside of a university setting in the United States.
Dr. Pyle has proudly served her community by volunteering at Friendship Medical Clinic which provides free medical care for those without insurance or access to care.
In 2009 Dr. Pyle began traveling to Rwanda for medical work with Africa New Life Ministries (ANLM). She was instrumental in the founding and growth of the Dream Medical Center (DMC) in Kigali. The Dream Medical Center is a state-of-the-art hospital and the second-largest private hospital in Rwanda currently in the process of earning international accreditation. Additionally, with her husband Scott, Dr. Pyle founded the charity 2 Live Beyond which raises support for charities serving children in South Carolina and in Rwanda.
Nationally, she serves in Washington D.C. as a Museum of the Bible Women of Legacy Ambassador. She is the author of A Good Death: Learning to Live Like You Were Dying, coming in 2023.