Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. ~Benjamin Franklin
I’m sure a number of you are looking forward to “spirited” conversations around the Thanksgiving table.
Whether it’s a rousing debate with Uncle Will about free speech or Aunt Phyllis cornering you to proclaim that she’s definitely not a racist (“but what’s all this talk about privilege!” she mutters), you might be looking at a few days of difficult conversations.
But – take heart – you can do a lot of good with those conversations.
Just think: what would happen if you flipped those difficult conversations around, and used them as inspiration to go out and do great things for other people?
After all, with Black Friday looming, it’s tradition to start planning what you’ll be getting old Uncle Will and Aunt Phyllis for the holidays. ‘Tis the season for giving, and why not use the conversations that you have over mashed potatoes to guide your generosity?
It might make it easier to have those conversations in the first place.
Just to help get your creative juices flowing, below I’ve given you a head start by providing a potential charity, and a seasonal message worthy of your relatives’ most fervent convictions.
There are so many worthy charities that I’d never be able to list them all, so don’t consider this list exhaustive; instead, visit Charity Watch, which has a wonderful list of top charities grouped by category here. !And don’t forget that one week from today is Giving Tuesday!)
Bless them, your relatives are going to do so much good this holiday season!
Uncle Phil doesn’t believe in climate change, and thinks it’s a hoax brought about by government “scientists”.
Dear Uncle Phil: I remember from our conversation during Thanksgiving that you shared my concern about the independence of scientific inquiry into things like climate change. I was so inspired by our conversation that I decided to donate to the Union of Concerned Scientists in your name. If you’re not familiar with them, they “put rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems.” They are entirely independently funded, so there’s no concern that the government will interfere with any of their findings. I just knew that would be something that you support. Happy Holidays!
Aunt Ellen blames everything on the liberal media and claims there’s nobody reporting on the facts.
Dear Aunt Ellen: I remember from our conversation during Thanksgiving that you shared my concern about bias in the media, particularly during political election cycles. I was so inspired by our conversation that I decided to donate to FactCheck.org in your name. If you’re not familiar with them, they “are a nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aim to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” They monitor the accuracy of what is said by politicians in their “ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.” Their goal is just to “increase public knowledge and understanding.” That really struck a chord with me, and I thought it would with you, too. Happy Holidays!
Aunt Millie is an ardent pro-life activist and voted based solely on whether the candidates claimed to be pro-life.
Dear Aunt Millie: Our conversation during Thanksgiving really educated me about your strong pro-life convictions. I absolutely agree with you that all life is precious – including the lives of the young people who have unintended pregnancies. I was so inspired by our conversation that I decided to donate to The Power to Decide in your name. If you’re not familiar with them, they are a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing teen and unwanted pregnancies by promoting responsible behavior and responsible policies. This donation will help The National Campaign (now The Power To Decide) reach more young people. Happy Holidays!
Uncle Charles agrees that the refugee crisis is indeed terrible, but doesn’t think that it should be our problem.
Dear Uncle Charles: I remember from our conversation during Thanksgiving that you shared my concerns about the refugee crisis. And I know that you believe, as I do, that the children and families that have suffered so greatly deserve our help. You know, you said something during our conversation that really got me thinking. You said that it’s not our government’s job to help the entire world. And that made me realize – it’s up to us, as individual Americans, to step up and help the world. So, I was inspired to donate to the International Rescue Committee in your name. If you’re not familiar with them, they “respond to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.” I know that the best holiday gift I could give you would be a donation that might help one of those families feel just a little bit safer tonight. Happy Holidays!
Aunt Phyllis says that she’s not racist.
Dear Aunt Phyllis: I’m so glad that you told me at Thanksgiving that you are not racist. I know that you don’t think it’s your place to denounce any of the president-elect’s appointments. (Even though one of them has been endorsed by none other than the KKK.) Still, I know that you would want to ensure that all Americans are protected – even those of different colors and faiths. So, I was inspired to donate to (the Anti Defamation League, or the Southern Poverty Law Center) in your name. With white nationalists claiming that they’ve been legitimized through this election, and saluting while saying “Heil Trump!” – well, I just knew that you would feel as strongly as I do that organizations like (the Anti-Defamation League or the Southern Poverty Law Center) are more important than ever. Happy Holidays!
Sister Clara told you when she passed the mashed potatoes that she thinks we should take care of Americans first.
Dear Sister Clara: I’m so glad that we talked at Thanksgiving about how many children and families in the United States need our help. I absolutely agree, and I was so inspired by our conversation that I decided to forego holiday gifts this year, and instead donate to the Children’s Defense Fund in your name. If you’re not familiar with the Children’s Defense Fund, some of their policy priorities are to end child poverty and ensure children’s health care. Those goals really resonated with me, and from our conversation I knew they would with you, too. (I leave it to your discretion whether you mention that CDF was where Hillary Clinton began her career helping children and families…) Happy Holidays!
Cousin Billy says that our schools are crumbling.
Dear Cousin Billy: I’m so glad that we talked at Thanksgiving about how our nation’s schools need more funding. I couldn’t agree more! That’s why, when I was thinking about holiday gifting, I decided to make a donation to a local school through Donors Choose. Now Ms./Mr. ______’s classroom will have exactly what they need – thanks to you! Happy Holidays!
And finally, Cousin Emily sheepishly admitted that she voted for Trump and now says that she’s concerned about her friends in the LGBTQ community.
Dear Cousin Emily: I’m so glad that we talked at Thanksgiving about how many challenges the LGBTQ community has faced in the current administration. That’s why, when I was thinking about holiday gifting, that I decided to make a donation to the Victory Fund in your name. If you’re not familiar with them, their mission is to “change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBT Americans by increasing the number of openly gay and lesbian officials at all levels of government.” That struck a chord with me, and I thought it would with you, too. Happy Holidays!
Whew! I told you that your relatives would be helping a lot of people this holiday season. And honestly, after the gut-wrenching and heart-breaking year we’ve had, there’s no better gift than bringing safety, peace, and joy to others.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I’m grateful for you.
WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.