Giving Back and Giving thanks
If you ask me what I'm thankful for this year, it's definitely my move back to GA. I'm so happy to be surrounded by family and old friends. At times living in NYC was isolating. I don't think most people mean for it to be that way, but when you're new place that's just what it is. And if you aren't intentional about getting out and engaging your community, people can fall through the cracks. So moving back home, I promised myself I wouldn't get caught up in the family "hype" (only hanging out with my family) and isolate myself, and my family, from meeting new people. My goal to engage my community, literally and figuratively, may be lofty at times, but how many of my goals aren't? I'm not always sure what this looks like, so I'm trying a little bit of everything.
Today we went to sort can goods for shelters. I loved this so much because it was toddler (and baby) friendly. Everything was organized by category and we had bags that we put together. It was like grocery shopping. I love that without even knowing it, she was doing some good. She engaged her community without knowing it, and I couldn't be more proud. It was small, and most times I want to do more but it's a start.
Last week, we handed out tea favors to our neighbors. Engaging our community in the truest sense, starting on our street with our new neighbors in a very simple way. We used it as an opportunity to meet the neighbors, and introduce ourselves. This was a way to engage those close to us via proximity. It was a great family activity, and we met some new people. All of whom seemed appreciative of our present and presence.
Next week, we have a toddler/senior playdate (details to follow) at a nursing home. I'm excited about this because seniors are sometimes forgotten members of our society. I'm sure they feel isolated from everything and everyone especially in a nursing home. I hope this shows them we have not forgotten about them. Hopefully the toddlers don't tire them out too much.
It's hard to teach toddlers the concept of giving back. So my goal is to scale with their overall learning curve. Give them something they understand and build on that. Empathy and sympathy toward your fellow man, while seemingly a lost lesson, can be taught. I have a Christmas rule, one toy in, one toy out. It keeps my toy-ratio down and helps teach giving back in a truly tangible form. My hope for my children is that they tend to the needs of those who less fortunate, but it's my responsibility to teach them. I would love this to be an innate characteristic, but it isn't and I want to teach it now in hopes that it does become innate. In the words of our favorite VeggieTales movie "if you have enough to spare then you have enough to share..."