Giving Can Be Its Own Reward

Evolutionary theory dictates that gratitude and generosity are linked, Greater Good says, and those who give generously receive in kind and are more likely to survive. So as you begin to shop the #BlackFriday deals online and in person, remember to share some of your good fortune in the spirit of #Thanksgiving. Take some shelf-stable goods or wrapped toys to a holiday drop-off location, #donate a few dollars to your favorite #charity, or schedule a free #donation #pickup of lightly used clothing and household goods to ClothingDonations.org. “Emphasize the giving, and the thanks will follow.”

How to Express Gratitude on Thanksgiving

There are plenty of options for giving #thanks and showing #gratitude as the #holiday season, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says. Volunteer with a local charitable organization, invite a holiday “orphan” to your dinner table or make an extra meal to give a family in need. At the feast, suggest that everyone share a memory that expresses gratitude (or have them write it down and add it to a Thanksgiving tree to avoid performance anxiety). If you have more money and #stuff than time, consider giving a donation of cash or used goods to ClothingDonations.org, where the proceeds will help fund essential #veterans programs. #Thanksgiving

What We Celebrate When We Celebrate Independence Day

Heading into the July 4 weekend, you’re probably getting ready to fly the flag, have a cookout or watch a parade and pyrotechnic display. But it’s also a good time to reflect on what we celebrate when we celebrate #Independence Day.

The Second Continental Congress approved a resolution of independence on July 2, 1776, but issued the #Declaration of Independence — announcing the legal separation of 13 colonies from Great Britain and establishing a new nation — two days later.

Founding Father John Adams told his wife, Abigail, that he expected July 2 to be the date celebrated “with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more,” but the official declaration’s date became the anniversary day.

The document is remarkable for championing the equality of all men; guaranteeing the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and establishing the government as the protector of those rights. If the government fails to protect these rights, it says, the people are free to form a new one.

At the time, no other nation had defined its purpose in such plainspoken and universal terms, and the concepts are worth revisiting. And with the United States now the richest and most powerful nation in history, many forget the advantages of such inalienable rights or attempt to restrict others’ access to them.

While American society has maintained considerable and often brutal inequalities in the years since, today we interpret the Declaration of Independence as guaranteeing the foundational rights of rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to everyone — not just people of one’s own race, gender, religion or party. The nation’s #veterans have fought repeatedly to protect those rights, and they could dissolve just as quickly as they came together in 246 years ago in Philadelphia.

This July 4th, take time out to enjoy that all-American hot dog. Go see that parade. Watch a star-spangled display. Enjoy the long weekend. But remember that in establishing a new, self-governing nation, the Declaration of Independence sought in some measure to mitigate oppression for every citizen of the United States. And that work is not yet complete.

Celebrating National Vietnam War Veterans Day

Next Tuesday, March 29, is National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Why March 29? Because on March 29, 1973, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) was disbanded and the last U.S. combat troops departed the Republic of Vietnam.

Vietnam veterans first got their own holiday the following year — even before the fall of Saigon in 1975 — thanks to President Richard Nixon, who declared March 29 Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. But not until 2012 did the push for a national observance get underway.

That year, President Obama issued a proclamation calling upon all Americans to observe March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day with programs, ceremonies and other activities that commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

“One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam — particularly how we treated our troops who served there,” President Obama said in his remarks. “You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor.”

In 2017, National Vietnam War Veterans Day was established as an official observance. Now in its fifth year, National Vietnam War Veterans Day is the occasion for hundreds of celebrations and events nationwide — all held to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.

More than 3.2 million people served between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975. But those numbers are dwindling: More than 500 Vietnam veterans pass every day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. So the time to thank them is now.

Take some time out in the next couple weeks to observe National Vietnam War Veterans Day by visiting a veterans memorial or attending a commemorative event; thanking a Vietnam veteran personally with a call, card or visit; or volunteering your time with a veterans organization.

You can also donate your used clothing and household goods to ClothingDoanations.org year-round to fund programs that help honor those who served by staging commemorative events and offering direct assistance when needed. The nation’s veterans thank you for your support!

Be Thankful, Get Organized

The holidays are rapidly approaching. And while you may have thought you’d have “everything” done ahead of time, the stark reality is that a few things may have escaped your attention until now.

It’s rare for a person to have every single thing completed by the internal deadlines they themselves have created. Be #thankful if you were able to get the jump on a couple of things on your to-do list already.

As for the responsibilities that loom in the weeks ahead, now’s a fine time to get started. You have nine days left to prepare for #Thanksgiving — more than enough time to plan a lavish celebration.

Start by planning the feast itself, Me in Order says. List everything you plan to make and anything that you’ll ask guests to bring or buy ready-made. Then, go and buy the the ingredients while the stores still have them.

Early rumors of supply chain shortages of turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples appear to have been overblown. But even if something is missing from your list, you still have time to get creative and suffuse your feast with decadent seasonal alternatives.

You may also wish to do a quick kitchen #cleanup and #decluttering to #streamline next week’s heavy usage. Locate the specialized tools you’ll need (such as that potato-masher) and keep them within easy reach.

The table and home are another question. If you’re the host, you may wish to do a day’s worth of cleaning and decorating. If you happen to find items that you no longer need or want as you #organize, you can #donate them to ClothingDonations.org.

#Donating lightly used clothing and household items to ClothingDonations.org is one of the easiest ways to #givethanks to #veterans, since the proceeds from the resale of those goods go directly toward veteran health care, housing and other support programs.

This year, be #thankful for the bounty that you do have and the ability to again gather in person relatively risk-free. Share that bounty with your family, friends and fellows throughout the holiday season.