FIGISM #8: To Give is to Get

It was actually President Lincoln’s idea. Whilst in the throes of Civil War, he chose to create a new national holiday that focused simply on giving thanks. He understood what so many today struggle with: to give is to receive. At FIG we’ve always believed in generosity and the power of giving, from pro bono hours for causes that speak to our heart and our head, to extra paid time off so one of our own may heal, to volunteering ‘on the clock’ for a cause that speaks to at least one of us, from fighting hunger to solutions for bone marrow matches.

Schlepping 50 cases for Plum Organic baby food for future food bank use

Upon returning recently from three days of volunteering for the nonprofit Conscious Alliance and delivering 600 meals to Pine Ridge Reservation – the poorest community in our grand country – I realized this truth again. I am the receiver of awareness, empathy, sober sadness and motivation to help with more change in a more humane direction. In the middle of counting our 27 meals for one man and his grandson to deliver to their community on the rez, I realized I was standing in deer’s blood in his truck, and he was in hunter’s garb. While I waited for 50 lb. bags of potatoes to be hurled toward me, I asked the hunter, “What type of deer and how many points.”

Sylvia and daughter Maddie at Conscious Alliance’s food bank

“White Mule and five points . . .a big buck. Will be really good eating.” And in that moment, I appreciated that he was from a people who were hunter gatherers – the Lakota. He then offered up, “You know, if you ever want to find the most deer, they’re close to town. They always seem to want to be near the borders . . .like they’re curious or something.” I just nodded. Moved my stance toward him to make room for potatoes and stacks of canned vegetables.
I felt like the Pine Ridge deer in that moment. Standing on the edge, inquisitive, even hungry for knowledge. We took photos from the truck’s edge and he looked straight into my lens, as confident as an aging White Tail buck. In 72 hours I’d volunteered my time, and gained a lifetime of appreciation.

To meet in a truck or at a table, is a gift we should all give and receive. It is a Thanksgiving of both spirit and sustenance. It is, quite simply, the most honorable holiday.