Find ways for thanks and giving
“I stopped by the grocery store and was behind a young mother,” Lana said as we began our coaching session. “I was picking up cupcakes for Tommy’s Thanksgiving party, where I am headed after our coaching session.”
“What about the mother piqued your interest?” I asked.
“I felt uncomfortable watching her dig through her purse trying to muster up money for her groceries,” Lana said. “I overheard her telling her children that she couldn’t afford any pumpkin cookies. There was no irritation in her voice, simply matter-of-fact.
“As she walked away, I built her story in my mind,” Lana continued. “It included her husband losing his job and taking a lower-paying position that only covered the essentials.”
“It’s interesting how our mind fills in the blanks,” I said.
“The clerk rang up the cupcakes, and I easily paid for them,” Lana said. “It seemed unfair that I could indulge in something as decadent as cupcakes for a classroom party, where there will be tons of snacks and some food even tossed out in the end ... and this woman could barely buy the basics.”
“Tell me more about those feelings,” I prompted.
“We’re not rich by any means,” Lana said, “but I’m not in the predicament that I assumed this woman was in. During the holidays it seems more prevalent how some families struggle and others don’t. We talk about eating until our buttons pop, sitting on the couch watching football while we drink eggnog, while other families may not have enough money to buy a turkey.”
“I would guess there are many families in each of these categories — some with enough and some without,” I said. “How are you going to spend Thanksgiving this year?”
“The kids are coming home and, up until now, our plan has been of the ‘button-popping’ variety,” Lana said.
“You sound disappointed,” I said.
“I’m excited to see the kids, but again, it feels selfish and greedy to sit around and eat. There is a gap between how our family celebrates and how the woman at the grocery may spend her holidays.”
“What could you do to close the gap?” I asked.
“I’ve heard of people volunteering to serve at the soup kitchen, but I want it to be more personal,” Lana said. “I’d like to help one family have a nice holiday season. If I could contact that young mother from the grocery store, I would ... but that’s impossible.”
“How else could you help a family during the holidays?” I asked.
“I could ask the principal if he knows of a family who may need and would accept help, anonymously, of course. I’d be happy to buy ingredients so they could celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, I would ask my family to help plan and shop for the food so we could all participate.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” I said. “How can you make this happen?”
“I’ll talk to the principal today,” she said with excitement in her voice. “It’s a win-win-win. I feel I’m helping to close the gap. Another family gets to celebrate the holidays, and my kids learn the benefits of helping others. This year I will both give thanks for all of my blessings and enjoy giving to others. Isn’t that what this holiday season is all about?”
Coaching challenge: No matter the status of your financial situation, how can you include both “thanks” and “giving” in your holiday celebration?