Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | November 20, 2007

Useful thankfulness is grateful action

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” ~ Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel

It’s almost time again for my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving.

The reasons that I love Thanksgiving range from the silly (mashed potatoes) to the serious (lack of crass commercialization) to the sublime (gratitude for my many blessings).

But as much as I appreciate Thanksgiving and the opportunity it affords me to take time to realize how truly fortunate I am, I have to admit: All that gratitude isn’t particularly useful unless it translates into action.

This year, I’m especially thankful for the wonderful Mediterranean-like climate that we enjoy here in south Santa Clara County.

I suspect that our climate ranks high on my thankfulness list this year because I planted my first-ever winter garden. I’m enjoying watching edible-pod peas mature on the vine, waiting for heads of broccoli and cauliflower to appear, and picking leaves of butter and red leaf lettuce to make a fresh salad.

Although I’ve lived here for more than 11 years, I am amazed every year by the sight of citrus ripening in late winter and rose buds ready to bloom Thanksgiving week.

One way to turn that thankfulness into action is to take better care of the planet. Whether you agree with the vast majority of scientists who say that global warming is a real, human-enhanced phenomenon or not, being a good steward of the earth is a wonderful way to show gratitude for our climate.

The Internet is full of easy ways to help take better care of our only home. Ideas include reducing driving by combining errands, taking public transportation, carpooling, or telecommuting; purchasing minimally packaged products; purchasing locally produced products as much as possible (transporting products consumes lots of energy); turning off lights and computers when not in use; lowering water heater temperature settings; and planting native, drought-resistant landscape plants.

Perhaps this year you’re especially thankful for your good health. Why not turn that thankfulness into action by donating blood?

Only 5 percent of Americans who are eligible to donate blood do so. The American Red Cross reports that “… every two seconds someone in America will need a blood transfusion. Blood transfusions are used for trauma victims – due to accidents and burns – heart surgery, organ transplants, women with complications during childbirth, newborns and premature babies, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.”

You have several opportunities to donate blood in South County next month:

• Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m to 3 p.m., Lions Club Hall, 12415 Murphy Ave., San Martin
• Monday, Dec. 3, 1:30 – 6:30 p.m., Church on the Rock, 700 E. Dunne Ave., Morgan Hill
• Thursday, Dec. 13, 1:30 – 6:30 p.m., First Baptist Church, 8455 Wren Ave., Gilroy

Visit the American Red Cross Web site to make an appointment at one of these or other blood drives.

Perhaps in this time of economic unrest – with strikes, layoffs, out-of-control oil and gasoline prices, spiraling national debt and record foreclosure rates – you’re thankful for your home and livelihood. Consider turning that thankfulness into action by donating goods, money or time to local agencies that help the homeless and working poor.

St. Joseph’s Family Center can use volunteers and donations of food and money.

EHC LifeBuilders, an agency that runs two shelters in South County, can also use your help.

One of my favorite charities, Heifer International, gives animals that provide both food and livelihoods to recipients around the world. A hive of bees, a flock of chickens, a few rabbits, sheep, goats, or even a heifer or water buffalo can make a tremendous difference for an entire family.

This is just a start. You can find ways to take grateful action whether you’re thankful for civil liberties, your pet, recovery from a specific illness, your local library or a favorite hobby.

This Thanksgiving, examine your blessings, give thanks for them, and then take action to share those blessings with others.

It’s the best way to give real meaning – something beyond calories and football – to this special day.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy



  1. […] I’m glad to see that my favorite Food Network chef, Alton Brown, is promoting one of my favorite charities, Heifer […]

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