Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, but as an Australian this doesn’t have any real significance for me, as it’s not a holiday we celebrate. Having said that, being thankful is something that more of us should practice more often.

As a fairly privileged middle class resident of Calgary, I am thankful for what I have, although I probably do spend more time than I should wishing for good things in the future.

Anyway, today my wife and I went for a walk up 4th Street and 17th Avenue, where there are many shops and restaurants. It’s the trendy part of town, but also being near the downtown core it is also the home to many homeless people.

I have been reading a new book by Wayne Dyer “Inspiration – Your Ultimate Calling”, and today, as we sat in a cafe drinking coffee and eating a muffin, I read… Trust me – every time you extend love to those who usually receive anything but, is a seed of inspiration.

My mind raced to think about people who don’t often get love extended to them. I thought about the half-dozen homeless people we passed on our walk.

So I asked my wife, “Do you mind if I spend ten dollars on an experiment?”

“I guess not. What’s the experiment?”

“I want to go to McDonald’s and spend ten dollars on cheeseburgers and give them to homeless people. I want to see what it feels like to give away food to people who need it.”

“Okay.” She said, not sure where this idea had come from, since I’m not in the habit of buying food for the homeless.

I bought six double cheeseburgers, and as we walked the fourteen blocks back to the car, we looked for people in need of food, rather than trying to avoid them.

The first was a man whom we had passed on our way about two hours previous. He hadn’t moved from the bench he was sitting on. There was a lady (not homeless, by her appearance) sitting on the bench and talking with him. At first he didn’t want to accept the burger, but when I told him I had bought it for him, he accepted it and was very appreciative.

The second was a man sleeping in front of Blockbuster. I didn’t wake him, but left a burger by his hand for when he awoke.

The third was an old Native American lady sitting on a bench. She too was talking with a lady seated next to her (who was also not homeless). She thanked me for the burger and wished me a happy thanksgiving.

I was surprised that we had come across two homeless people who had people talking with them who weren’t homeless themselves. I guess I had never taken the time to notice a homeless person, so it may be more common than I thought, but in any case it was an interesting observation. I could see how others were taking the time to make these people feel more valued, something we all look for.

The fourth was a man who passed us by as we chatted with with a couple, sitting on a cafe patio. At first I only noticed him from behind, so I wasn’t sure about his situation. When I saw him looking in a garbage bin further down the street, I ran to give him a burger, and he thanked me. I gave him a second burger, when we came across him a couple of blocks later, when we were right by our car.

The fifth encounter went something like this.

I walked up to a man had been talking with the man I had just given a burger to. He was dressed reasoably well and looked to be in his fifties. “Would you like a double cheeseburger?” I asked as I pulled out the last burger in the bag.

“Yes, thankyou.” He stretched out his hand and accepted it.

“You’re welcome. Happy thanksgiving.” I smiled.

“Thankyou. Are you from Down Under?”

“Yes I am.” I was a little surprised he knew. I don’t know whether it was more surprising that he knew because he was homeless, or because most Canadians incorrectly identify me as British or South African.

“See I know that.”

“Yes, and where are you from?” I felt a little awkward, because I didn’t know where this conversation would go.

“Okanagan Falls, BC. My name is Timothy.” He shot out his hand and I shook it and introduced myself to him.

“I really appreciate this.” He unwrapped the burger and bit into it.

“I’m sorry, it might be a little cold. I bought it about half an hour ago.”

“It’s very good. It’s better than not having it.” He smiled as he chewed on it.

“I’m glad.”

“I really do appreciate this. I’m homeless you know.”

“I know.”

“Thankyou very much. You’re a good man.”

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how it would all turn out, when I was standing in McDonald’s buying the burgers. I was actually a little nervous to be approaching homeless people to offer them food. But when I thought about it, I realized that since many are already asking for food or money, they wouldn’t have a problem accepting from someone who’s offering.

And I found that to be true. Every one of the people (other than the sleeping one) I gave a burger was appreciative and polite, as you would expect from anyone.

At the end, my wife thanked me for suggesting that we do this, and we decided that it would be something we would do on a regular basis. In fact there’s no reason why we couldn’t start every walk with a visit to McDonald’s to get burgers for others.

I discovered how giving to others is a very rewarding activity for the soul, and from today onwards I will make a conscious effort to incorporate it into my daily life. It doesn’t have to be just giving burgers to hungry people. Giving love, appreciation, respect, compliments are all just as valuable. In fact the giving of the burger, may not have been as valubale to those five people as much as they were treated with respect by someone they wouldn’t have expected it from.

And it sounds obvious, but I also realized that everyone will accept kindness gladly, no matter what stage in life they are at.

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This entry was posted in 7 Criteria, Be Inspired, Inspiration, Selfless and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thanksgiving

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful, touching experience. It is truly when we give that we receive, isn’t it? c”,)

    Keep inspiring by blogging!

  2. Rob G says:

    Hey Matthew, great blog on the Thanksgiving season. Your absolutely right in the pure joy of giving, well written, keep up the good work.

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