We had a lovely Thanksgiving at home with J.C.'s family. The morning was stressful as I raced around snapping at people while I tried to clean the house and get ready for guests, but once everyone arrived, we had a great time and delicious turkey dinner. I can't decide if I'm cut out for entertaining or not. I enjoy the planning. I enjoy the idea of entertaining. I enjoy the actual dinner or party. It is the 24 hours leading up to it that turns me into an irritable, quick-tempered, tightly wound ball of stress. J.C. and I never agree on what needs to be done or when, so that just adds to my anxiety level. His idea of preparing for guests always seems to involve some obscure task like hanging up bikes by a pulley system in the garage, or scrubbing the floor of an upstairs bathroom that nobody will see while the kitchen sink is overflowing in dirty dishes and there is a pile of coats and shoes at the front door threatening to trip all the guests. Somehow we are usually able to muddle through those 24 hours without killing each other and have a good time in the end though. Yesterday was no exception to our usual pre-party ritual. We managed to pull things together by the time his family arrived and have a great time. Turkey, dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce is my idea of perfect food, so this is one of my favorite times of year.
Thanksgiving evening, we went around the table and each talked about what we are thankful for this year. We do this every Thanksgiving, and it is a nice opportunity to talk to the girls about all our blessings. This year, I'm especially thankful for our new addition to the family. Addison has been such a joy. I'm thankful for a wonderful husband, three healthy girls, and stable jobs that provide well. I'm thankful for Candy Cane Jo Jo's from Trader Joe's, the extra refrigerator in my garage, homemade cranberry sauce, automatic sliding doors on minivans, and Addie's smile.
In talking about our own blessings, we decided to try something new this year for some charitable giving. Each person in the family was given the same amount of money to donate to the charities of their choice. I think the girls really got a lot out of talking about different ways their money might help others in need, and it was really empowering for them to get to choose how it would be spent. The results of our giving are below:
Addison: With help from her big sisters, Addison decided to help fund the construction of a PlayPump through PlayPumps International. The PlayPump system is a sustainable water pump powered by children playing on a merry-go-round which provides clean water to people in developing countries. The impact it has is pretty amazing. Here is a video clip about PlayPumps.
Addie also chose to pay for 10 mosquito nets from Nothing But Nets. Each net can protect a family our size from malaria for four years.
Nina: Nina chose to help impoverished people obtain a sustainable source of food and income by purchasing a flock of chicks, a trio of rabbits, and some honeybees through Heifer International.
"For sixty years Heifer International has brought dignity and self-reliance to families in need all over the world with its brilliantly simple solution - livestock and training for food and income"
- Barbara Bush, former First Lady
Nina also chose to fund an eco-friendly playground through Operation USA. Operation USA provides disaster relief after hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Along with the obvious relief such as medical supplies, water, shelter, and trauma teams, Operation USA works on building up the community after a disaster. Nina's donation will go toward creating a new playground in a devastated community where children can meet and gather to play after such a stressful event in their lives.
Elise: Elise chose to donate 80 children's books through First Book which provides books and literacy programs to children in need. Through the end of the year, Random House is matching donations book for book, so Elise's donation will actually result in a donation of 160 books to First Book.
J.C.: J.C. chose to donate toward a Play Pump and also fund the purchase of 10,000 clean water tablets through Operation USA.
Ann: I chose to donate my share to the Ronald McDonald House of Durham which provides a home away from home for the families of seriously ill children being treated at Duke University Medical Center. My donation can provide a room in the house for a family for three weeks.
This has been a great Thanksgiving... full of giving thanks and giving back.