“Giving” is the Best Part of “Thanksgiving”

“Giving” is the Best Part of “Thanksgiving”

by / 6 Comments / 38 View / November 21, 2007

I got an attitude adjustment today at Ralphs. Like lots of other busy people, I waited until the last minute to buy my turkey and other “Thanksgiving food.” My mind was on  my  shopping list and my goal to get out of the market in 20 minutes, tops. When I’m  focused like this, I’m in “Shirley world” and lots of times I don’t even notice the people around me.

Turning into aisle two, (breads and spreads) I couldn’t help but notice other people! The  aisle was jam-packed with shopping carts and  other shoppers like me vying for front row to the rack of sourdough buns.  No one was talking but everyone was sending a message to each other through “supermarket speak.” Supermarket speak is when you use passive/aggressive body language like huffing and puffing, tapping your toes, rolling your eyes to signal to someone to hurry up and move out of your way, instead of saying it.

I finally pushed through and found the source of the traffic jam. There was an older woman in a wheelchair, parked in front of the Hawaiian bread that was searching the racks for her coupon item. She had a lot of coupons and looked very confused and frustrated. I was frustrated too, but for other reasons, like for waiting around so long.

 It took me a little while to find my favorite bread so I lingered there long enough to catch a conversation between this older woman and another shopper who just turned into the aisle. The young shopper had a smile on her face and didn’t seem to be alarmed by the bottleneck traffic. Unlike most of us, she quickly spoke and addressed the problem.

“I see you have some coupons. Do you need any help finding anything?”

“Oh, thank you, do you work here?”

“No, I’m  just a shopper  like you”

 I’ve been here for 10 minutes looking for the whole -wheat sourdough bread. I just don’t see it!”

“Here it is, it’s on the top shelf. How many do you want?”

“I’ll take two. I guess the  clerks must have moved them to make room for the Thanksgiving dinner buns. Thanks so much, you saved me a lot of time.”

“No problem, enjoy your Thanksgiving!”

“You too,” the older woman offered, sporting a new, relaxed expression and huge smile as she rolled away.

The act of kindness and consideration displayed by the young shopper in that transient gesture woke me up from my self-centered slumber. At that moment, I realized that not only was the old woman in the wheelchair not to blame for the traffic jam, but all of us “able-bodied, supermarket-speaking people” were! How simple it would have been for one of us offer to help her, but our own self-absorption  paralyzed  us form reaching out and helping this woman! I was even standing an arms-length away from the bread she was looking for!  I felt ashamed.

I got my Thanksgiving food at the market, alright, but I also came away with a valuable lesson.  I always thought of Thanksgiving as a holiday to “give thanks for all that I have.” Me, me, me!  The bread incident openned my eyes to the fact that the “ability to give” is what I should be thankful for, not the other way around. As far as I’m concerned, seeing it any other way makes Thanksgiving just another high calorie, sleep-inducing meal that I can  do without.

6 Comment

  1. Wow–that was a blessing to read and it’s way past Thanksgiving. It keeps on giving.

  2. Shirley,

    This is a great post. One thing I noticed is you said it was a young person that helped the “old” lady. I see a lot of hopeful signs that the younger generations really do care and are not the misfits that they are made out to be. I get a sense that many of the younger generations are looking for more meaning in their lives. I think so often people assume “someone else” will help. The older couple stranded on the side of the freeway will surly be helped by “someone else”. The lady in the aisle will surly be helped by “someone else”. Someone looking for work figures why apply, “someone else” will get the job. I think it was Woody Allen that said “90% of success is just showing up”. You know what, that job you wanted but thought “someone else” would get still isn’t filled. Instead of “someone else” showing up “no one” showed up. Take the first step and the rest of the walk comes alot easier.

  3. Thanks for sharing that Shirley. This just goes to show that in the rush of things, (Holidays in particular), we really need to slow down and chill out, rather then bicker and whine about the small stuff. That woman must have been truly thankful after she was helped. It inspires me to do the same. Hopefully others read this before cramming into the stores on black friday! 😉

    Love ya

  4. Thank you, Shirley. I read your post on Wednesday and had it on my mind so often yesterday. You have pointed us in the right direction – to cherish the human condition and s-l-o-w down long enough to experience grace.
    xoxoxo debra

  5. Your post brought tears to my eyes. How thankfull we should be that there is still many kind people in this world. The young shopper who helped the lady, had her day made. It is more fulfilling to give than to receive.
    Have a great Thanksgiving with your family, I love and admire you.
    S.

  6. Fabulous post, Shirley. And thanks.
    Even here in Maryland it was almost 70 degrees today, so I spent it in the garden admiring the fall foliage. And feeling pretty thankful.
    Have a wonderful day tomorrow! S

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