On Thanksgiving morning, I rose early on a rainy and cold day for a 5k race. My daughter arranges the volunteering that she and I do for several years. We’ve run in road races, but during warmer seasons.

Each year, we’re assigned a spot on the running route to give our water or point runners towards a turn. It’s two hours of standing in the cold, yet the time flies. As runners pass, we shout encouragement:

“Good job!”

“Great running!”

“You’re doing great!”

“Way to go!”

“You can do it!”

Many runners pass by, without seeming to hear. But I know that they do, having been in their running shoes. When running in these events, it means a lot to me to hear people calling out encouragement. Strangers who I don’t know, and who may very well not be shouting to me—it does not matter. I am energized and appreciative. So I call out encouragement even when it seems that I’m talking to myself. I believe that the runners hunger for it. Some runners grunt acknowledgement, something that I do, and others do express gratitude.


The last third of the participants walk the course. We cheer them with just as much enthusiasm as for the frontrunners. There is no judgment or value placed on pacing. They are all outside on a cold and rainy day—participating.

This event reminds me of the value of giving thanks, not just at a race or when we gather later with our families to celebrate Thanksgiving. Showing appreciation is a simple act that represents the act of giving of ourselves to others.

December is a time of giving. Cynics would say that it’s a time of spending money and shopping for stuff. They might go further to say that December is the opposite of giving. These cynics are right. Unless…

We can choose to act with recognition of the opportunities to show appreciation through our interactions. For example, thanking a sales clerk when they complete a sale for us shows appreciation of their efforts. If you are working with a customer, saying thanks or have a great day—matters. Even knowing that such responses are most likely the result of store training, it’s still nice to hear. So lets all do our part.

Saying “thank you” is a gift of giving, as are other expressions of appreciation and encouragement. Let’s embrace this season to give thanks everyday to someone. Such practice for 31 days could engrain such actions into our normal practice that it extends into the new year. That’s a gift worth giving.



    • Sue Remisiewicz on December 20, 2015 at 5:32 pm
    • Reply

    I agree. It is good to get in the habit of being grateful and letting people know you appreciate them.

    • Kelly Bixby on December 16, 2015 at 10:40 am
    • Reply

    Hi John. This piece is sincere and inspiring. Such an easy behavior to adopt and implement will spread joy to the recipients as well as to those who offer thanks. Thank you for providing us readers with a nice reminder.

    • Claire Murray on December 3, 2015 at 10:30 pm
    • Reply

    I like the story, John. Perfect for this time of year and so true.

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