Bringing the Giving Back to Thanksgiving

By Pamela Prince Pyle
Pamela Prince Pyle
Pamela Prince Pyle
Dr. Pamela Prince Pyle is a board-certified internal medicine physician. In 2009, Dr. Pyle began traveling to Rwanda for medical work with Africa New Life Ministries and was instrumental in the founding and growth of the Dream Medical Center in Kigali. She is the author of A Good Death: Learning to Live Like You Were Dying, coming in 2022. To learn more visit her website www.pamelaprincepyle.com and subscribe for more inspiring posts from a Doctor on Mission.
November 25, 2021 Updated: November 25, 2021

The holidays have arrived. They rushed toward us with an expectation of getting noticed. Thanksgiving and Christmas melding together as consumerism reaches a feverish pitch as the weeks of November drift into December. Black Friday becomes Black Thanksgiving Night and soon there will no Thanksgiving pause before the madness begins. 

I am thinking about this as I am flying to see my oldest daughter and son-in-law and new granddaughter. My daughter’s birthday is November 20th. We almost always celebrate her birthday and then our family joins for Thanksgiving Day. It is her favorite holiday. Mine too. 

As our family has grown, so have the number of tables added to the end of our dining table to make room for young and old alike. It is a happy place for me, to see my children all gathered in one place. I am so thankful for their presence. The chatter of multiple conversations taking place at once is music to my ears. Yes, I am thankful.

Families build traditions around holidays and ours was no different. A few years ago, this same daughter lived in Finland. However, her boyfriend, now husband, is from Italy. During one Thanksgiving week, I flew to see her and celebrate with her both her birthday and our favorite holiday. In the beautiful Northern city of Bergamo, I met his family and fell in love. They are a big family with great love. Though I didn’t speak Italian, nor did they speak English, it didn’t keep us from sharing a wonderful time.

I appreciated the love that was expressed from my daughter and her new future family. I can only imagine the effort that went into that Thanksgiving meal. Unlike, the frozen turkeys that nearly tumble from the freezers in our grocery stores, a whole turkey is not that easy to find in this small city in November. 

Dinner time arrived and the turkey was presented with lit candles as though it were a birthday cake and we delighted. A Thanksgiving tradition was started and to this day one son-in-law fries the turkey and the other presents it to the table with candles. 

Yes, traditions are built as bonds are formed. One of my favorites we have adopted is a tradition once told to me by a woman that I met on a trip to Israel. It truly embodies the words Thanks and giving. Each member of the family is given a certain amount of dollars to give away. From the very young to the very old, each is given the opportunity to give that money to a ministry or organization that they believe impacts the community, the nation, or the world in a positive manner. At Christmas they share their giving strategy and its impact. It is giving at its best.

Giving traditions such as these teach the truth to even the very young that it is better to give than to receive. Giving to others indwells the giver with a unique joy that cannot be reproduced. 

The stillness of Thanksgiving is followed by the frenetic motion of the pre-Christmas holiday shopping days:  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and then the unexpected day arrives. It is called Giving Tuesdays.

What a refreshing day to follow in the spirit of Thanks-giving. In 2012, the genesis of Giving Tuesday took place at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. A simple idea of a day for doing good is now a global movement of giving generously. Hundreds of millions choose this day to experience the joy of giving. 

In my own life, my husband and I have discovered that giving of our time and our money to charities both locally, nationally, and internationally has enriched our lives more than we could have imagined. We choose our goals for the upcoming year based upon what we can give away rather than what we can earn. We recently were taught by a couple from Houston, Tx whose business has grown exponentially and unexplainably by not only developing a giving goal, but a “stretch” giving goal. We are incorporating this stretch goal for our 2022. We don’t do this to receive more in return, but rather increasing the excitement of joyful giving. 

As you look forward to the holidays and your own traditions, may I encourage you to consider enjoying the giving in your Thanksgiving traditions? Use Giving Tuesday and the month of December to give and the holiday season will deliver the gifts of merry and bright to your heart. 

If your family has a holiday tradition that you would like to share, please include in the comments. We would love to hear from you and yours.

Finally, there are many amazing charities to give to but if you want to join me in bringing food to those experiencing food poverty as a result of Covid 19, follow this link: Africa New Life Food Is Campaign. 

Dr. Pamela Prince Pyle is a board-certified internal medicine physician. In 2009, Dr. Pyle began traveling to Rwanda for medical work with Africa New Life Ministries and was instrumental in the founding and growth of the Dream Medical Center in Kigali. She is the author of A Good Death: Learning to Live Like You Were Dying, coming in 2022. To learn more visit her website www.pamelaprincepyle.com and subscribe for more inspiring posts from a Doctor on Mission.