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Share and gain this holiday

When most of us think about Thanksgiving, we think of spending time with family, eating until we make ourselves sick, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and watching football. For a few of us, it marks the start of duck season.

Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621 when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians had a fall harvest. President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, declared Thanksgiving a national day of thanks. The holiday, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November, has always been one of my favorites and one that makes me appreciate how fortunate I am.

For merchants and shoppers, Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas shopping season and the ever-famous Black Friday where shoppers trample each other in the middle of the night to get the best deals possible. I have never understood this phenomenon, but so many people love the adrenaline rush of shopping during the middle of the night.

To me, Thanksgiving is when we should all take the time to stop and reflect and help those who are less fortunate. Think about the two words that make up Thanksgiving: thanks and giving, and relate what that means to you.

One Thanksgiving that holds special meaning to me was in November 2005. My late brother Dan, my brother Andy and I spent the holiday in Birmingham, Alabama at the University of Alabama-Birmingham hospital. I was donating a kidney to Dan in the hopes of getting him off dialysis and getting him back to a normal life.

God blessed us with a successful surgery and a good two weeks for Dan. Andy and I will never forget the smile on Dan’s face the morning after the surgery as he walked into my room pulling his IV with him. I was hurting and hitting the morphine pump, to no avail, to squelch the pain. It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since that Thanksgiving. That would be the last one the three of us shared together.

As we age, certain holidays stand out in our memories and are important times for us to remember. So many people in our community need help during this season just to make ends meet. We all need to give thanks for what we have but also need to share and give.

The Pantry always needs food donations, so consider taking the time to make a monetary contribution to them or donate canned goods. Interfaith Compassion Ministry helps people when they have nowhere else to turn.

Volunteer to help with More Than a Meal, which provides hot meals for residents of our community every Tuesday at the Stone Center when the Oxford School District is in session.

If you would like to help provide gifts for people during the holiday season, consider helping The Christmas Store, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Oxford-Ole Miss and ICM. Some other organizations seeking donations are Mid-South Toys for Tots and Operation Christmas Child.

Whatever your plans are for this Thanksgiving, think about what you can do in the coming year to help someone in our community. If we can all help one person, we will have fulfilled the true words of thanks and giving.

Tim Phillips is publisher of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at tim.phillips@oxfordeagle.com.