Giving thanks.

In the spirit of this week (and on the heels of my recent Master of None binge-watching), I can’t help but think about the act of giving and how thankful I am that my parents raised my siblings and me to understand its value.

My parents have always been incredibly generous – with their time, money, our home, anything and everything they had to give. They hosted parties and school functions at our house, mom cooked meals for classmates’ families in need; they organized an annual Christmas party at the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women’s & Children, dad spent hours playing Santa and posing for pictures with each child. Amidst so many examples of thoughtfulness and generosity, I remember one in particular that truly taught me the value of giving. Not just in how it blesses the receiver, but in how much joy it brought me to give.

Toll4

Way back when GA 400 was still a toll road, we used to frequent the toll plaza en route to the pediatrician, soccer practice/games, the outlets. The toll was just 50 cents, and, on occasion, my parents would hand the attendant $1 and say “pay for the car behind me” before heading down the highway. I would make a mental note of the car behind us and watch how the next minutes unfolded. Would they try to catch up with us and make some sort of “thank you” gesture? Would they hand the attendant the money they already, inevitably had out and pay it forward to the following car?  Would they simply smile and go on their way? It was so exciting for me that it became contagious; each ride through the toll would be paired with pleas to “pay for the next car! pay for the next car!”

Having never been in the car behind my parents, I don’t know what happened next. What I do know is that the gesture made my day brighter. Every single time.

The act of giving, no matter how small, makes the world a little bit better. Whatever you have, whatever you’re grateful for in your life, someone is living without. Even if you only have 50 cents to give, do it. ‘Tis the season.

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