Giving Thanks by Giving

The First Thanksgiving

Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving (1914)

Today, as we give thanks for all the blessings in our lives, it is important to remember those who have less than we do. This Thanksgiving weekend, as Native American Heritage Month draws to a close, let’s say a special prayer for the Original Americans, who most often are the Americans struggling the most.

Here are some ways to help them.

Futures for Children (
Children’s education charity with connections in Red Mesa, AZ.
Charity Navigator rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

Native American Heritage Association Holiday Program (
Helping Native Americans living on the tribal reservations in South Dakota. Charity Navigator rating: 4 out of 4 stars.

Adopt a Native Elder (
Providing for Navajo elders.
Charity Navigator rating: 4 out of 4 stars.

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (
Increasing  American Indian and Alaska Native representation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Charity Navigator rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

American Indian Services (
Providing scholarships, opportunity, and hope for Native Americans out of Provo, UT.
Charity Navigator rating: 3 out of 4 stars.

(Thanks to Peggy Rapier for posting this list on the Save the Redskins Facebook Group.)

Five Minutes, Five Thank Yous

It is said that the the simplest and most appropriate prayer is two simple words: “Thank you.” These are my five “thank yous” to God for today:

Julia on our honeymoon

Photo: David Ozab

1) For a wife that knows what I’m going to say before I say it and sometimes what I’m going to think before I think it. For a connection that goes beyond words; a connection between two souls.

Thank you.

Firefighter Anna!

Photo: Julia Ozab

2) For a daughter whose imagination never fails to delight me. I could listen to her play for hours with all the little voices she makes, and could watch her make faces in the mirror for hours too.

Thank you.

Photo: Ben Franske (CC BY-SA 3.0)

3) For a roof over my head and a refrigerator full of food. So many people don’t even have that much, and despite the rough stretch we’ve endured over the last few years we’re still doing ok.

Thank you.

Line outside Toys R Us on Thursday night

Photo: KEZI 9 News

4) For online shopping, so that Julia could get a start on Anna’s Christmas list in the comfort of our home last night while others waited for hours online. Just think: if the people who stood out in the cold all afternoon waiting for the doors to open at 8 p.m. had stayed home too, maybe the people who had to work last night could have had a Thanksgiving evening with their families instead. That would be something everyone could be thankful for.

Thank you.

RG3 fist-bumps with a kid

Photo: Getty Images

5) For the Redskins and Robert Griffin III, who finally gave me something to cheer about by beating the Dallas Cowboys 38-31. You don’t know how many Thanksgivings the Cowboys have ruined for me over the years. This was one I could truly enjoy.

Thank you.

Five Minute Friday

Happy Thanksgiving!

Home To Thanksgiving

George Henry Durrie: Home To Thanksgiving (Currier and Ives, 1867)

A feast of Thanksgiving links from some of my favorite writers (and one from me too):

Melissa Hart: Thankful for Little Things (Horizon Air Magazine, Nov., 2012)

Jonathan and our Kindergartener, Maia, dropped me off about half a mile from the Skinner Butte Park community center where race registration was taking place, promising to meet me at the finish line. I walked past Spandex-clad runners doing warm-up sprints and tried not to yearn for speed. Ospreys wheeled over the Willamette River, hunting for fish. In previous years, I would have been so focused on the race, I wouldn’t have noticed them . . . or the woman ahead of me struggling to carry two 10-pound frozen turkeys.

“Need some help?”

She stopped, panting. “Don’t you want to get to the race?”

The I uttered something I’d never said in years of running timed events. “I’m not in a hurry.” She handed me a turkey.

Rachel Held Evans: My “Biblical” Thanksgiving (from A Year of Biblical Womanhood)

I suppose it’s not a good sign when your copy of Good Housekeeping is stuck to the bathroom floor, covered in hair, toenail clippings, and dust bunnies, but by mid November I’d gotten so good at  cooking I figured God and Martha (Stewart) would cut me some slack on  the cleaning front.

Anne Lamott: What I’m really thankful for this Thanksgiving (Washington Post, Nov. 21, 2012)

We are going to have a small and motley Thanksgiving this year. Some years the gathering is slightly larger, but it’s still motley. This time there will be only a dozen or so of us.

Three will be very Catholicy Catholics, and a fourth will be a man who is just Catholic-ish. He loves Mary and wears scapulars from the Mission Gift Shop when under extreme stress, but he only goes to church every six weeks or so. When he arrives I’ll say, “Sinnerman!”

Robert Rummel-Hudson: Broken Thanks (posted at Support for Special Needs)

Some of us are in a place of acceptance, and others of us still shake our angry fists at the sky. Some of us embrace neurodiversity, while others fight to bring our kids some measure of the life that their unimpaired peers enjoy without so much as a thought. There are parents who are thankful for every day that their kids are alive, all too aware of how precious those days might be. Others of us are equally thankful for every day that we as their parents can be with them, ever mindful of our own mortality and the burning question, Who will take care of them when we’re gone?

For every disability parent who is thankful that their plane landed in Holland, there’s another of us with a lot of questions about why OUR plane landed in Mogadishu instead, or on Mars.

Alise Wright: Giving Thanks (Alise . . . Write!)

I’m thankful for kids who knock on the bathroom door and tell me a random science fact, who make up hilarious comics starring “Super Snake,” who have compassion, not only for other people, but for the earth and animals in ways that I often don’t, and with whom I can share a cup of coffee and writing woes.

This one is mine, from the last chapter of A Smile for Anna: Thankful for the Blessing (posted at

“I am blessed, and I am thankful for the blessing!” the priest’s words caught my ear just I found myself drifting during the homily.

“I’ll say that again, now that I’ve got your attention.”

A scattering of laughter dashed around the room.  The priest was a big man with a booming voice and he knew when to use it.

“I am blessed,” the priest repeated, “and I am thankful for the blessing. I’d never heard that phrase before I came here nine years ago; the first time I heard it, it really struck me. . . .”

And a video from Father James Martin, S.J. on gratitude (from America Magazine’s YouTube channel):

Happy Thanksgiving! May you all be blessed, and be thankful for the blessing.