In full transparency, I woke up two weeks ago and said “Are you kidding me? How is it November already?” Then I took a deep breath and realized how lucky I am to have survived 2018. No joke.
Between last Thanksgiving and this Thanksgiving I have produced 10 more events, and I’ve kept three children alive, healthy and generally happy (through the help of technology, the occasional McDonald’s Happy Meal and plenty of “5 more minutes” nights together). I feel grateful for the obvious people who have helped me survive and thrive this year, such as my husband, my nanny Lisette, my MOABS team (especially Maddy, Bessy and Julie) and my event partners, but also for the people who make every day possible, such as my children’s teachers, my pediatrician, my OBGYN, my mailman, my neighborhood sanitary crew, etc. My list of people to thank could go on and on. But Thanksgiving isn’t just about giving thanks, it’s about giving back.
As a mother and business owner, giving back was instilled in me at a very young age and I use this time of year to pass along this value to my children. My mother ran several charitable organizations, and her efforts were truly grassroots. She was truly a professional fundraiser, albeit unpaid. She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and was never shy about asking friends to donate. She ran around South Florida in between school pick-ups and drop-offs, packing lunches, cooking dinner, putting the kids to bed and so on to pick up donated clothing for immigrant children first coming to our country, cleaned the clothing in our washer and dryer, packed it all up and dropped it off to local social service agencies. She collected holiday gifts for hundreds of less fortunate children every year, again shopping, organizing and dropping them off. She “dragged” us along for many of these errands, and later we earned service hours for our work. She worked tirelessly to give back to the community, all whilst raising three children. She taught me about “There but for the grace of G-d go we.” It took me until I was a teenager to understand the impact my mother had on thousands of families, and to realize how important it is to give back.
That leads me to Thanksgiving. We’re all so busy, we all just want to cuddle up and take a nap or have a drink (or three). But now is the time when our communities need us the most. This is the time when families are most in need. So regardless of my exhaustion by November, each year I commit my time and financial resources to a cause. And it doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars or hours and hours of your time if you don’t have either/both to give. In between the insanity that we all call life, I simply find the time to do something for others outside of my own family. This year I chose to collect money for Memorial Healthcare System and bring pies to NICU families, moms on bedrest and the nurses who do such an amazing job caring for families who recently had babies. For only $5, a local family can help another family in a meaningful, festive way. I collected enough for over 70 families and delivered them to the hospital today. The simple gesture meant so much to these people, and I felt so good knowing I had made their day even a little bit happier. Think about how lucky you are to be with your family this Thanksgiving in your/their home? These people will spend their Thanksgiving at the hospital.
So my message is simple this year, simple gestures can mean so much. And I’m not saying this in some sanctimonious way, I’m saying it in a “I promise you don’t have to drive yourself crazy to do good this holiday season” way. Our young children might not understand our efforts now, but if you lead by example, they will later. Give thanks, AND give back. Nothing feels as good as making someone else feel good!
Written by Amy Lundy, founder of MOABS, mother of three