As kids, we are all thankful for the little things that make our life a bit more fun; whether it be a night without homework, Aunt Helga’s pumpkin cheesecake, going to a concert or even just spending time with friends. Come November 27th, it’s truly family, friends, school, a roof over our head and health that most of us are thankful for. Somehow, I feel as if there is something missing from those three, four, or five building blocks of gratitude. Something just as necessary, but often overlooked. As cliché as I sound, that necessary item to add to the Thanksgiving list is simply the ability to give back. That is, the willingness to do something meaningful for someone who might not be in a position to be thankful for three, four, or five primary components of gratitude on Thanksgiving. The ability to make dreams a reality.
Personally and fortunately, I feel I am able to realize this through Shred Kids’ Cancer. As long as I have the ability to help someone, or even a whole community in a meaningful way, I feel an obligation as a human being to fulfill this need and I’m very thankful for it. Okay, I know that sounded like a glorified motivational poster, but there’s no other way to convey it; just bear with the cheesiness for right now.
If you are ever unhappy with the way your life is right now – be it stress with school, a less-than-ideal social life, or maybe even knowing you won’t get to go see that movie you’ve been dying to see – Shred Kids’ Cancer has taught me to never take my health for granted. Take a minute to remind yourself to be grateful that you aren’t physically limited, that your body doesn’t have a figurative stone wall blocking you from doing whatever you wish to do. Kids with cancer can’t risk hanging out with friends or innocent trips to the movies because they may risk getting a cold, which can make matters a whole lot worse.
This Thanksgiving season, I urge you to use your lack of limitation to help others get over their stone wall. This can be helping someone with cancer, a disability, or even standing up for what you know is right with a friend, even when it might not be the easy or popular thing to do. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, help plant a garden for a neighbor who can’t, or strike up a conversation with the kid who no one really talks to at school. When going about your life, contribute to things that you recognize as beneficial to someone else. It’ll make you feel pretty grateful for what you do have, and the people you helped will feel that much better.
It’s “common knowledge” that it’s better to give than receive, but it’s that exact thought process that dismisses my entire message. You hear these words of gratitude so many times that you develop a resistance to them. You subconsciously drown them out, just like when a five year old might hear “eat your vegetables.” Without even realizing it, we miss the simple point that you have the power to turn words and ideas into action. You need to put yourself out there – to put your good thoughts into a plan, and you’ll see what I mean, how fulfilled you can feel.
In our world, your ability to improve other’s lives often becomes an ever present, but rarely truly noticed, gift. This blog isn’t a revelation; it’s simply a reminder to not waste your capabilities and try and put them to use to make the holiday that much more meaningful to you and the world around you. And don’t forget to give yourself a meaningful portion of Aunt Helga’s pumpkin cheesecake.
Teagan Stedman is the founder of Shred Kids’ Cancer, a 501c3 non-profit public charitable organization dedicated to serving our community by offering a solution for kids to help fight kids’ cancer and show their peers who are suffering that they are here to help them.
*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) or any Responsibility.org member.*