Thank You, Dear Stranger

>> Friday, October 24, 2008

This post is my submission for this month's Green Moms Blog Carnival. The subject is gratitude/favorite green things. Even if my submission is not chosen, you should check out the musings of all the great Green Moms on November 3 at Best of Mother Earth.

Gratitude is a frequent subject of conversation between me and my two older boys. The conversation is generally one-sided and goes a little like this:

"A thank you would be nice." OR "A little less complaining, a little more gratitude." OR "Gee, I'm so glad I did this for you since you are showering me with thank-you's."

First Son is just catching on to sarcasm, and it's way above Second Son's head, so dear hubby and I decided maybe we ought to have some more specific, less sarcastic lessons on gratitude. In the past two months, we have had five family night lessons on the subject of gratitude. I haven't noticed an increase in the number of thank-you's, but they can tell you this:

First Son: "Gratitude is saying thank you and showing love."

Second Son: "You show gratitude by being kind to people."

The point we've been trying to get across to the boys is that gratitude is meaningless without action. It does no good at all to feel grateful for someone if you don't tell them, or even better, show them.

Last week, my husband needed a ride to work really early in the morning, and the only way I could get my sleepy boys to put on shoes and head out to the car was to promise them some donuts. You'd think they'd be grateful for the treat, but as typical three- and four-year-olds, they spent the morning fighting and complaining, and by the time we were settled at a table in Dunkin Donuts, I was pretty frazzled. It was 8:00 in the morning, and the day was not looking good.

And then a nice gentleman at the next table started teasing my boys and making them laugh. He showed us pictures of his twin grandkids and told us some jokes. In short, he brightened the morning.

I am truly grateful for a man that I will never see again.

I'm sure you can think of similar times in your life when you've been grateful for the kindness of a stranger. How do you show gratitude to someone who was only in your life for a moment? How about passing on the kindness? Share a smile with the next person you see. Open a door for someone who needs a hand. Say thank you to the cashier, the bank teller, even the workers at the DMV. Show your gratitude for a stranger by being kind to another stranger.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the holiday of Thanksgiving were accompanied by a season of kind-giving?

In the spirit of showing gratitude for strangers, I would like to tell you about three of my favorite green things, which are not really things at all. They are organizations filled with people I've never met but for whom I feel grateful because they are people who are making a difference.

New American Dream

  • Mission Statement: Help Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice.
  • Why I love it: The New American Dream embodies just about everything I believe in. I like what they stand for so much that I actually applied for a job with them two years ago when I lost my job and was panicking about becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom. I didn't get the job, but I like them anyway. If they were a political party, I would vote for their candidates.
  • How I'm Showing My Gratitude: I'm spreading the word about their "Break the Bottled Water Habit" campaign.
Co-Op America
  • Mission Statement: Harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.
  • Why I love it: Co-Op America focuses on economic action to end injustices, and I obviously believe where you spend your money makes a difference or I wouldn't be blogging about being a Conscious Shopper. Also, although I am concerned about the environment, what really sends me on a rant is social injustice. (It seems like our society would have progressed enough by now that we wouldn't be treating each other unfairly.) So I'm grateful that Co-Op America has the two-sided mission of social justice and environmental sustainability.
  • How I'm Showing My Gratitude: I'm participating in their Fair Trade Trick or Treat, and I'm hoping to attend their Green Festival in Washington, DC.
Sierra Club
  • Mission Statement: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
  • Why I love it: What's not to love about an organization that encourages people to get outdoors?
  • How I'm Showing My Gratitude: I plan to get involved in my local chapter.
Time Magazine had a special edition a few months ago called "The Case for National Service." I'm not sure if I agree that service should be required, but wouldn't it be great if we all embraced the concept of volunteerism? Maybe this holiday season, we could show a little gratitude by being kind to those around us - even strangers - and by giving back to our communities. Let's all have a little less complaining and a little more gratitude.


Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan October 29, 2008 at 3:20 PM  

Welcome to Green Moms Carnival Erin and thank you for your submission and your thoughts re: gratitude and green. I think a smile goes a really long way in a moment when someone is kind or caring. I think a handwritten note or a dash of an email also goes far. I know my son rolled his eye's at all my p's and q's as he was growing up, and yet he turned out darn polite and caring. My daughter has the most sincere apology I have ever heard. She means it when she says it.

I appreciate what the sierra club is doing with it's grassroots how green is your village movement

Jennifer Taggart, The Smart Mama November 3, 2008 at 1:05 PM  

Welcome to the Green Moms Carnival. Great idea to pass along some organizations that are making the effort! But I most appreciate the efforts to spread some gratitude - a difficult lesson for children. My 3 and 5 year old are still working on it . . . and of course, I must lead by example.



JessTrev November 3, 2008 at 8:55 PM  

Love the idea of a season of kind-giving! If you end up at the Green Festival in DC, let me know! A couple of the Green Moms Carnival members are speaking and it'd be nice to meet up!

Diane MacEachern November 3, 2008 at 9:52 PM  

Wonderful post. Thanks so much for reminding us about the kindness of strangers. There are so many opportunities for us not only to accept kindnesses, but to extend them.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper November 3, 2008 at 10:56 PM  

JessTrev, We haven't officially decided if we're going yet, but if we do, I agree that a meet up of Green Moms would be fun. Which Green Moms are speaking? We're planning on trying to catch some of the speakers on sustainable home building.

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