Thanksgiving and #GivingTuesday: Making it Personal

“Giving Tuesday is a counter narrative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it reminds us that the spirit of the holiday giving season should be about community and not just consumerism. The most meaningful gift we can give each our children, loved ones, friends and neighbors is the commitment to work together to build a better world.”

Kathy Calvin, CEO, UN Foundation

When I was asked by our friends at the UN Foundation and the Global Team of 200 to help promote Giving Tuesday, I thought what a wonderful concept and idea..so important! And then my frenetic “life” took over, and both at home and here at ClimateMama we have focused on other things. But, on the eve of this Thanksgiving holiday, and one week out from the launch of Giving Tuesday – November 27th, 2012 – Kathy Calvin’s words above, and events of the past month have collided in “my universe” to give this day and this opportunity so much importance and relevance to me and my family. I am honored to join so many wonderful organizations and individuals to bring this idea to your attention and help us all bring Giving Tuesday to life.

Why giving Tuesday makes so much sense to me: In North America, many of us get so caught up in our fortunate lives that we tend to put blinders on when looking beyond and outside at the rest of the world. Most of us have easy and seemingly secured access to food, water, shelter and so much more – things that we take for granted and which I have found out personally, can easily be taken away. Around the holidays we are inundated with ads and information every where we look, telling us to “show our love by buying things” for our friends, colleagues and loved ones. I am not advocating being a “scrooge” during the holidays and I love getting and giving gifts as much as the next girl. However, in the midst of what has been happening this past month in our lives, my family and I will re-evaluate our giving traditions and reconfigure the 2012 holiday season to clearly show that giving includes making clear personal and family commitments to building a better world.

I live in the metro New York City area where our lives and the lives of many of our friends, relatives and neighbors have been turned upside down by Mother Nature – with a strong push by the thoughtless actions of humankind. We have documented our tales and travails here on our ClimateMama blog, but it goes without saying that many lives have been changed forever by Hurricane Sandy. This storm was our real life look at climate change in action – a harbinger of our future – mother earth’s warning to us. Being a part of 24 Hours of Reality, the timing of which was eerily perfect, also intensified the urgency and brought home the realities of Climate Change for our family and for many families around the world.

Peace: Jordan/Israel Border October 2012

Across the Atlantic and in the Middle East, a fragile peace and a war long simmering are reigniting and there is suffering on all sides. My family was in Israel in October 2012, to celebrate a joyous wedding with family and friends. Life in Israel seemed so “normal, familiar and safe.” Now, many families in both Israel and Gaza are in and out of bomb shelters every day, angry, upset and scared. Peace must be THE answer and the world needs to recognize the obvious, there are no winners in war.

At a time of Thanksgiving in the United States and at the beginning of a holiday season in many parts of the world, filled with goodwill and good cheer, it is time we stopped and took a long look into our children’s eyes and the eyes of our parents so that we remember what is important in our lives. Our planet is reeling and in pain, hatred is fueling war and bloodshed around the globe. It’s time to make a real and renewed commitment to work TOGETHER to build a better world.

Around our Thanksgiving table this year and we hope around yours, we will be talking about and make a commitment to Giving Tuesday something real, tangible, personal and important to us – a cause, organization, program or event we can hold close, understand and relate to and that will or is already part of our life. What the past month has brought home to me personally is how fragile our hold is on our own personal reality – how in a second this can be changed, and how much we take for granted. While social media opens up the world to us, it also allows us to easily login but just as easily logout.

Make Giving Tuesday a real start to staying LOGGED IN on a real plan and opportunity that you and your family can create that will help make our world a better place. At ClimateMama and in my immediate family, our family plan revolves around actions, speaking out and winning the conversation, and working to support policies that will slow down and mitigate climate change and that will help us adapt to our new realities. We have taken the Pledge and are defining our actions. Your plan may be different then ours, but hopefully with the same outcome: building and creating a safer, more sustainable, secure future for us and for our children.

With Gratitude and Thanks,

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