Giving back marks true meaning of Thanksgiving

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 24, 2002

Through my childhood eyes, Thanksgiving Day was second only to Christmas Day in the pecking order of holidays.

Turkey Day, as it is affectionately known to many people, was a day for the three Fs of modern life: Food, family and football.

My mother would work like crazy for days cooking up anything and everything imaginable. From turkey and dressing to enough desserts to amaze most French pastry chefs, Mom always ensured that everyone present had one of their culinary favorites represented during the feast.

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With such mouth-watering faire, the family was easily lured home.

Then, when all of the plates were clean and the dishwasher was in maximum overdrive, the football lovers in the family would retire to see whatever game happened to be on that day.

And so it was for years. The ritual was repeated again and again.

It wasn't until I was much older did I realize that for many people, Thanksgiving Day was little more than another day of survival.

No turkey awaited them. No family sat at the ready. And certainly enjoying a football game was not even a possibility.

That moment of realization changed my outlook about Thanksgiving and all other holidays, too.

The point of holidays isn't personal, instant gratification. Something bigger was going on here, I discovered.

The purpose of holidays -- and life itself, for that matter -- is to give back to others.

The phrase "it is better to give than to receive" never has more meaning than during the holidays.

Charitable organizations in our area depend heavily on the collections they receive during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. In many cases, the funds, goods and other gifts they receive during November and December make up a large percentage of the entire year's worth of needs.

And those needs are often much more dire than many of us realize.

In an effort to help, The Tribune will donate proceeds of all newspaper rack sales on Monday and Tuesday to the City Welfare Mission. If you purchase a newspaper from one of our newspaper racks, realize that your money is going to a great cause.

In addition, if you would like to donate a canned food item to the mission, please feel free to drop it by our office, and we will deliver the items for you. Canned food donations are always welcomed by the mission because the shelf life of the food means it can be stored to address future needs, too.

All residents and businesses who are financially able, are encouraged to donate money, food or your time to one of a number of charitable causes in our area. Doing so will make your Thanksgiving a blessed one by knowing that you have touched the lives of our neighbors in need.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune.