Thanks For Giving

While our neighbors to the north celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving in October, in November families and friends around the U.S. will be gathering to give thanks. For many, including myself, this is a favorite holiday. Its purpose is clearly stated in its name–a day dedicated to giving thanks. Although some fear it is quickly losing its significance, with more stores opening on this day to provide an early start to the hectic Christmas shopping season, football and parades, for the most part, people still gather around a table to share a meal, often turkey, and give thanks for all manner of good things–big and small. It is a time when we strive for our hearts to see rightly all those invisible, intangible things that matter most–family, friends, health, freedom, faith, peace, and love.

It is with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

This is also a time when businesses and organizations thank clients, staff and vendors for their support. Two of my favorite examples this year are Walgreen’s Thanks for Giving commercial and the words of Kathy Calvin, CEO & President of the United Nations Foundation:

Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.


Things I’m Grateful For:

  • 1. Consular and diplomatic officials who dedicate their careers to building relationships around the world, promoting business and peace.
  • 2. The dedicated professionals at the U.S. State Department, particularly our colleagues in protocol, whose work impacts every major international event and visit that the U.S. engages in, as well as their colleagues at foreign ministries around the world.
  • 3. Businesses that properly display flags. (As a protocol professional, I’m like the schoolteacher who marks corrections in red: I travel the world noting which businesses got it wrong, and those that did it right.)
  • 4. Professional translators who translate not just the words, but the ideas we are trying to communicate. They help build bridges of understanding across language barriers.
  • 5. First responders and volunteers who give their time, resources, and sometimes their lives to help those suffering from disasters around the world.
  • 6. Learning opportunities: watching the Olympics, and learning that on the Chinese flag, the four smaller stars should be rotated so that they point toward the center of the larger star, and not parallel to each other.
  • 7. The peaceful transition of power after an election.
  • 8. Food banks and shelters, and those who support them.
  • 9. Businesses that don’t start playing Christmas music until after Thanksgiving.
  • 10. The woman who didn’t take the parking spot I was clearly waiting for at Costco–small things make a difference.

Any time is a good time to be thankful, but holidays, regardless of which ones you celebrate, are particularly appropriate. During the hectic days that holidays often bring, perhaps you can find a few minutes to consider who and what you are thankful for in this global community we all share. It only takes a minute to call and say thank you. Or, better yet, take three minutes to write a note.

I thank my clients, colleagues, friends and family, and this year I would like to add a special thank you to my colleague Andrea, who edits my newsletters, advises me, and makes everything I do better. You all have made a difference in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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