Hopeful Thankful Season

‘Tis the season– the season for seeing the first dusting of snow, filling shelves with bottles of Cab & Merlot, building fires in the wood stove, and casting stitches for knitted hats, mittens and scarves. The radio stations praise jingling bells and baby boys and Black Friday enthusiasts are setting their alarm clocks across America. Reserve a turkey and plan the menu. The holiday season is here.

This year my Thanksgiving, as many in the past, will be held at my parents’ house. The morning begins with fresh coffee, breakfast bread and the low hum of parade commentary drifting into the kitchen where preparations are in full swing. As cars arrive, hugs are delivered and tinfoil dishes are slid into the oven. Tradition is butternut squash soup served in hollowed turkey-shaped dishes and Grandpa’s pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream. The dining party is small–five wooden chairs arranged at the table–but the quality of the company far surpasses the quantity of faces and names.

I am thankful for these people around my table and seated elsewhere throughout the world. I saver their unyielding support and generosity as I do my braised carrots and mashed potatoes, thyme and time again. Behind everything in my life that I am thankful for–my job, my home, my travels, my future– there is a friend, family member or stranger who contributed to my thanks.

Who are you thankful for?

Giving thanks often begets feelings of guilt. The Philippines will not easily recover from their country’s devastation. Wars are being fought, children shot and voices left unheard. Who am I to sit in a warm house with a full stomach and fuller heart while others struggle for so much less? But guilt does not help the world. Guilt neither feeds the hungry nor protects future generations. It is hope, not guilt, that arises from thankfulness and paves the way forward. Hope is the kindling that fuels the fire of change. Hope pulls us from our beds each morning and tucks us in every night with the promise of a new dawn.

This year on November 28th, wherever you are and whoever you are with, give thanks for all the people and moments in your life that have made you who you are today. And with this thanks find hope in things to come.

photo (13)Want to have a sustainable Thanksgiving? Check out last years blog: Giving Thanks Sustainably.

Philippine Relief

During the summer of 2011, I spent three magical months in a southeast Asian island nation that has recently made its way into newspaper headlines and radio interviews. The Philippines was the place I learned to scuba dive, eat fertilized duck eggs, and formed friendships that have continued long after my return flight home. It is a country of beauty and unyielding hope for a better tomorrow.

letter of hope

I want to thank all my friends and family who reached out to me after hearing about the mass devastation due to Typhoon Yolanda. All of my close friends and host families are safe, protected in other parts of the 7,000+ island country. And while the death toll is less than previously estimated, thousands of people are without homes, food, water or clean clothes. My friend Vivienne recounted a story she heard from a friend living amidst the chaos and struggle for survival:

“It looked like a re-enactment of a zombie apocalypse. People there started destroying homes, banks, groceries. It’s crazy. One of my friend told me that her friend who lives there sleep with guns already.” 

There are a number of organizations currently receiving donations. Due to poor infrastructure and limited transportation, cash donations are preferred for those living outside of the Philippines.

Help Needed
Click the map to view in Google Maps

I will continue to update the post with more organizations accepting aid. My friends in the Philippines are working directly on the ground and I will try to find additional ways to contribute to the cause. Search hashtags on Twitter (#TyphoonHaiyan #yolandaPH #reliefPH #BangonCebu #BangonVisayas #PhilippinesTyphoon) and like these Facebook pages:

  • Help Malapascua – Stay up to date with the region’s relief efforts.
  • Bundles of Joy – Write a letter to show your support.
  • Adopt a Town for Christmas – Find a list of reputable organizations with people on the ground. Contact information and donation pages are available.

Before and After Pictures (Time Magazine)

“So open your heart
Give what you can
We’re all responsible
For our fellow man.”

Excerpt from A Helping Hand by Ray Hansell