Now that Halloween is behind us, we have officially entered the Very Best Time of the Year. The world is gorgeous right now; painted in yellows, oranges, and reds, set in front of a backdrop of brilliant, endless blue. My birthday is right around the corner (and it's a big one this year, too...35. No longer can I say that I'm [ahem, basically] 30...I am firmly and solidly in my mid-30s now). And of course, Thanksgiving planning is in full-swing with Christmas hot on it's heels behind it. But the spirit of the season is what makes it the best of the year: It is warm and festive and generous and thankful.
Every year we do some variation on the Thankful Tree we made when Evan was three. This year, I found some great, big "silk" leaves at the dollar store with wire stems. They look nice in a vase on our dinner table...
But they look fabulous strung together in a garland, with words of thanks written on each one...
The first night I had them out at dinner, the boys knew exactly what to do. Molly, the little joiner, picked up on the rules of the game pretty quickly.
"I'm thankful for carving pumpkins!" Max immediately shouted.
"I love my cozy bed!" Molly said.
"I'm going to go write mine over there where no one can see," said Evan, ever the Mystery Man.
He came back with a good one: "All of our money to buy food."
It reminded me of a project that I'd wanted to participate in this year: The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving project. For the past three years, Thanksgiving meals have been donated to families who would otherwise have gone without on the holiday. Each year, the program has grown as more families have admitted to needing assistance, and more and more members of the Scary Mommy community have offered donations.
I've considered myself a part of the Scary Mommy community as a reader for several years now, but I've never participated in the Thanksgiving project. We've always chosen to donate locally around the holidays, but also, those families in need? They seem so distant, so faceless...so...on the other side of a computer screen.
This year, Jill Smokler, the mommy behind the wildly successful website, made me a Writer. She's published several pieces of my writing on her website and, in doing so, has helped that little flicker of motivation to write inside of me grow into a full-blown campfire. A kumbaya kind of campfire that is warm, festive, and generous. I'm thankful for this new motivation. I'm grateful for this opportunity. And those families that benefit from this project? They're not so distant. They're not so different. And their need is just as great. And so, we decided to double our giving this year, both to our local food bank and to the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving project. Sitting around the dinner table that night, writing our thankful leaves, we told the kids about our plans to donate; for giving thanks through giving.
"I will, too," Evan immediately said. He ran upstairs to get his wallet.
Max followed closely behind.
When they came downstairs, Max handed me four dollar bills. They had been birthday dollars from his Great MomMom last year, before she passed away. They still had the lollipop stickers that she had stuck on them before putting them inside his birthday card.
Evan had two five-dollar bills: The change from the $10 Lego mini-figure that he broke his beloved $20-bill to purchase.
And my heart, which is already at near-maximum capacity just by beating during this, my favorite time of the year...burst wide open.
"Are you going to cry happy tears, Mommy?" Max asked.
Yes. Yes, I am.
You can find out more about the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving project and make your own donation here.
Be kinder than necessary. Give what you can.