Taking Time to Give Thanks

Photo Credit: the.blackswan on Flickr

Photo Credit: the.blackswan on Flickr

This year, Thanksgiving will be different for me. This will be the first year that I will not be going home for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a BIG DEAL in my family, it is an entire weekend affair. We host family from across the country in our home, serve many scrumptious meals, play games, go shopping and enjoy each other’s company. Our thanksgiving table is filled with an abundance of cheese, meats, veggies, breads, potatoes, desserts and more served over three courses all cooked by the all-star chef of my family, my dad. But, I learned early on from him that Thanksgiving isn’t about the food, it is about the relationships.

I am blessed to be a part of a family that values being together so much that they will travel across the country for it. I am blessed to be a part of a family that thinks that a few hours on Thanksgiving day isn’t enough so they are willing to invest the whole weekend. I am grateful to have a family that graciously invites new comers into the fold each year, last year that person was my fiance. This year I am grateful to my family for teaching me that Thanksgiving, and life, isn’t just about the things that you have it is about the relationships that bring you together, even if it is just once a year.

While my Thanksgiving will certainly be different this year, it will also be extra special. Since my fiance and I are unable to go home for Thanksgiving because my fiance has to work on Black Friday, my childhood best friend and her husband are making the trek up to Minnesota to celebrate with us. We couldn’t be more grateful! This year, we give thanks for them. While our Thanksgiving table will be a lot more simple than the one that I grew up with, I am again grateful that the focus of Thanksgiving is not the food but the relationships. I am grateful for friendships that stand the test of time and distance. My fiance and I are eagerly anticipating the conversation, laughter, cooking, eating and all of the activities of the weekend. We are grateful for friends who are more like family. I have no doubt that this Thanksgiving will be just as special as the ones before.

If I have learned anything about frugal living over the past few years, I have learned that frugal living is about intentionally focusing on the things that you have (relationships, experiences, basic needs) rather than the things that you don’t have. While our Thanksgiving table may be less abundant this year, we will have more than enough. What sustains me from year to year, is not the food but the memories and the relationships.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I encourage you to take time to focus on the relationships. Give thanks for the many things that you do have, rather than dwelling on the things that you don’t. That is frugal living at its finest!

Join the Conversation: What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?


Happy Thanksgiving: Celebrating Opportunities to Give and Receive

Happy Thanksgiving! Being frugal isn’t just about learning the tips and trick to use your assets wisely, it is also about stepping back and realizing the scope of all that you have, both assets and opportunities, and giving thanks. Join me as I give thanks from the perspective of a graduate student.

Even though I am no longer a student, I remember that time well as it was only a few months ago. As I look back on my time in graduate school, I want to celebrate the many opportunities that I had to give and receive. As a graduate student, I had many opportunities to receive. I received an education and generous scholarship aid from my school. I received loans from the federal government. I received informal aid from family and friends.

While I am grateful for all of these times that I was able to receive from others, I am even more grateful for all of the times that I was able to give. When you are in school, especially as a full time student, it can often feel like you are only capable of receiving, not giving. This is a really rough place to be in because it can make you feel helpless and useless. That is why I am even more grateful for the times that I was able to give back as a graduate student.

I am thankful for all of the ways that I was able to use my graduate school education. It is wonderful to see how the skills and knowledge that you learned in school can help people and organizations. I was able to use much of my education as I volunteered for churches and non-profits.

I am thankful for all of the ways that I was able to give financially to others. Aligning my spending with my values helped me to find ways to use my money, even the little that I had, to make a difference in the lives of others. I am grateful for all of the organizations that taught me that even a small gift can make a difference in the life of someone in need.

I am also thankful that money does not fix every problem. I am grateful for all of the times that I was able to offer a smile, a hug, a home cooked meal, good conversation, time, skills, or a homemade card to a person in need.

When we give, we are reminded of how much we have and how much we can share with our neighbor. I am incredibly grateful for not only how much I received, but how much I was able to give as a graduate student, because it reminded me of how much I had been blessed with and my capacity to share with my neighbor.

Join the Conversation: What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?