Put Thanksgiving into Action

Happy Thanksgiving, dads. This should be a great week with your family. Enjoy it!

This week, we have a few simple thoughts that challenged us, and they may challenge you as well:

If we’re thankful for what we have, as we should be, how can we put that gratitude into action?

In many households, Thanksgiving means an abundance of food. There may be leftovers that turn into turkey casseroles, turkey sandwiches, and turkey burritos and over the next few weeks. Food is so often part of meaningful traditions for your family during the holidays, so savor those opportunities.

But we can also pause to remember that not everyone is as fortunate. Consider these numbers:

  • More than 19,000 people died of hunger today, and more than 9 million have died of hunger this year. Nine million! That’s a global crisis that very few are talking about.
  • About one out of every nine people in the world is undernourished.
  • The amount of money spent on diseases related to obesity in the U.S.A. is more than 100 times more than the amount given globally to help feed the hungry.
  • In one day, Americans waste more than 84,000 tons of food. Estimates say that’s enough to feed the hungry in the world three times over.

Now, this isn’t about making anyone feel guilty about how you celebrate Thanksgiving. Do with these numbers what you will. (And the statistics are always changing, so if you’re interested, visit stopthehunger.com for the latest.)

Here’s the bigger point:

If your family is blessed, if you have many reasons to be thankful, please—somehow, someway—put your thanksgiving into action.

Find a way to pay it forward. As you get bombarded by commercials and ads for the next gadget that you or your kids absolutely have to have, please don’t forget to notice people who have genuine needs all around you.

It all starts with the right perspective on all of this, and maybe the first step is to have a discussion with your family about the resources you have, the needs of people around you, and your convictions about what is an appropriate response.

Can’t most of us find ways to help others while reminding our children how fortunate they are?

Maybe you and your kids could gather things to sell, then give the money to someone who needs it. Or donate items, money, or time to a local shelter or food pantry. Maybe you could sponsor a child or support an organization that helps kids in need. Or you could buy Christmas gifts for local families who can’t afford them, or for children of prisoners. There are many great organizations and outreaches that would benefit from your involvement.

Be sure to enlist your kids in the process—especially the decision-making discussions. If they have a hand in deciding what to do and whom to help, they’ll be more likely to follow through—and the whole experience will be more meaningful for them.

Also, some families feel like they are bombarded with opportunities to “give back” during the holidays. Sometimes each one of our kids will bring home multiple requests to help with something this time of year—from teachers, coaches, club leaders, and church groups. In some cases, it can be overwhelming and make a family’s holiday season even more hectic. So maybe the point this year will be to choose among the giving or serving requests and decide which ones can be meaningful and worthwhile.

What does your family do to help others—and what benefits have you seen for your kids and your family? Please share and interact on our Facebook page.

Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • Ask each of your kids what he/she is most thankful for. And when they ask you, make sure they are part of your answer.
  • Talk with your kids about hunger. What’s the longest they have gone without food? When have they been the most hungry?
  • As a family, spend at least a day “fasting” from something that’s a normal part of your routine, whether that’s food, smart phones, the Internet, etc. Make sure to talk about how it felt, what your kids really missed, and what they may take for granted.
  • Share some of the above statistics with your kids. Brainstorm as a family about any changes you might want to make or ways you can help others.

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.