Monday, November 22, 2010

The ThanksGiving List

Over a decade ago I started my favorite tradition ever: The ThanksGiving List. It is a list of my closest friends and why I am thankful for them that year. It's specific and heartfelt and I work on it the weekend before Thanksgiving (or earlier) and it is the best thing I do all year.

On the morning of Thanksgiving I wake up early, make two Pepperidge Farm cherry turnovers, and begin my calls around 9ish. I have until noon until I need to start getting ready to go to my family's dinner. After years of cultivating what I now think of as an art form, I can get most all of the calls in within this time frame.

Working off my notes I take a moment to get present with my gratitude and then I call my friend Ann (the list is alphabetical) and begin the thanking. It is designed to be a quick call, there are no pleasantries or small talk, it starts: Are you ready? Ok, Ann this is why I am thankful for you this year....

I rarely allow them to thank me back (that is not the point of the call, then it would be me just fishing for compliments). It is all about the giving, the thanking.

This is such a big deal with my friends that they often pick up the phone on the first ring, and have been known to start calling early in the month to make sure they are still on the list. It is not a given. If I have not been in touch with someone all year and I am not feeling it, they are off the list.

Pure gratitude and thankfulness is rare and this ritual has made Thanksgiving by-far my favorite holiday of the year. It makes me feel so blessed to make these calls and I know from the silence, the laughter, and sometimes the tears, how much it means to those receiving them.

Do yourself a favor and make a list, and if not on Thanksgiving pick one day a year to call up and thank the people that make your life so wonderful. I promise... you'll be thanking me for it!

UPDATE for 2011: I've begun some thank you tweets & emails to people I appreciate at work and in the social space I play in. These are quick little thank you's but keep in mind there is no bad time or way to thank someone. Get Thanking Today!

UPDATE for 2012: My pal Amy Spencer wrote a blog post about how much she liked The Thanksgiving List and then she included it in her new book Bright Side Up. Check it out on pages 137-138.

note: artwork blatantly lifted with thanks to Peanuts and creator Charles Schulz.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Sanity Defense

Jon Stewart - Moment of Sincerity
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

Jon Stewart's Rally To Restore Sanity last weekend was crazy! The music was great, the signs hysterical, the skits were decent enough... but the moment that really hit me was his Moment of Sincerity at the end. He spoke of how if we amplify everything, we hear nothing. How we might all hold different values but we can still live day to day with each other (because we already do). How is it that we are more civilized merging into traffic going through a tunnel then dealing with health care or our children's education? You go, then I'll go sounds pretty great to me; I'll even let you go first. 

I love Jon when he is on The Daily Show but I LOVE him when he is talking seriously about how pundits and cable news are a joke and hurting America. Politics has always been a messy business but when networks are dedicated to making it messier and profiting off the fear they stir up in people, it is beyond messy and just downright shitty!

When I voted this week I cast my votes, per usual, for mostly Ds but a R or two that I thought were doing a good job. And what I was most disappointed in was how politicians are already beginning 2012 positioning instead of saying: I better get to work and help these citizens that just elected/reelected me.

There are crazy people in the world (I believe Glenn Beck is one cry away from completely losing it) but what is insane to me are the people who watch him and get all filled with hate (this goes for people of the left as well) instead of saying: Ok, I believe that is a problem let's see what we can agree on as a workable solution

NRA members you want everyone armed; how about no assault weapons in cities and outlawing armor piercing bullets? Religious institutions you want tax free status; how about financial transparency and turning in your pedophiles? School unions you want more support and higher pay; how about not backing teachers that suck and actually earning tenure? There are few times when a society as large as ours is ever going to get more than 60% of its citizens to agree completely... but safe streets and safe, healthy, and educated kids seems like a good place to start.

I am all for outrage and strong debate but eventually we need to sit down and compromise to get things done. If that's not something people can agree upon I say we put them on the crazy-train out of town and work with the sane amongst us, no matter who they pulled the lever for.