“Thanks” Comes Before “Giving”

“Thanks” Comes Before “Giving”

I’ve been reflecting on the upcoming months as I begin to plan my holidays around my parents and my in-laws, pray my brother can make it to each gathering, consider menu options & ponder what gifts to give. I love buying presents for people, love surprising them with a thoughtful piece of evidence that demonstrates my love & appreciation of them.

Problem: Money.

My husband and I have struggled to get by these first 3 years of our marriage as the economy fell apart around us and we saw our hours take cuts while everything else seemed to soar in price. I like so many others this year, will be giving in an extra thoughtful and budgeted way.

As I sat pathetically lamenting how little I have to give this year I remembered some posts I had seen on Facebook, people ascribing a different letter of the alphabet to each day and listing something they are thankful for that began with that letter.

Example: November 13th, 13th letter of the alphabet =  M

Today I am thankful for the Memories I have of my childhood, my grandfather, my family, and the new ones my husband and I are making.

Before we enter into this season of giving gifts to others, we have a wonderful opportunity to pause in thankfulness this Thanksgiving. I’ve found that as I’ve considered how much I already have it has shrunken down my own Christmas list of wants. I have a great deal that I call my own and recalling my blessings as I walk into Target or The GAP where everything seems to have my name written on it, I’ve realized I have a bit of an easier time saying “no” (of course, I’ve also stopped going to GAP to make saying “no” much easier).

I guess my point is that the “Thanks” comes before, and very importantly before, the “Giving” and that’s a really good thing.

I want to invite you to take some time to write out a list of the things you are thankful for. If you don’t like doing that, just take a few minutes to wander about your living place and take count of all the things you have and all the memories attached to them. This is not an exercise designed to invoke guilt, just thankfulness. We will always want things, either because they are beautiful or cool, it doesn’t matter – I don’t want you to feel guilty about wanting. But I think we can get wrapped up in the idea  of “getting” and can even be consumed by it. I know I have. But when thankfulness is on our hearts, in our eyes as we look on our loved ones & surroundings, well, it makes us far less vulnerable to the “getting” bug.

So, my encouragement to you is to take some time – whether it be each day leading up to Thanksgiving, a Facebook post, Sunday morning devotion, or your one quiet evening this week – take some time to be thankful for where you live, what you have, the moments of joy you’ve had this month, a true friend, or a loving God. Make it a simple list; I took a walk in a lovely park today with my husband and my sweet dog, Coco. She won’t be around much longer, this may be our last winter, and I’m just grateful to give her moments like that & share them with my husband.

I’m thankful to have Mornings where Coco wakes me up. This happened just this weekend & I wish you could see how crazily she wagged her tail!

Take time now to make your Christmas that much richer. I guarantee you, there is no gift that can be wrapped in paper that will bring you the true happiness you seek.

If you are filling in the blank of this sentence, “If only I had . . . then I would be happy” with an object, I have news for you: you are wrong, it won’t make you happy.

You know that’s true. You may be happy to get it, enjoy it, but that inner-happiness, that joy that we’re all chasing, that doesn’t come from a pricey gift, it comes from a deep inner-satisfaction, a sense of gratification and a desire to bless others as you have been blessed.

I didn’t want us to wait until Christmas to have that talk about the true spirit of giving, it should start now when we have an opportunity to be grateful.

So, what are you grateful for today? Begin now in practicing some thankfulness! If you’re having a hard time narrowing it down try sticking to the letter “M,” (M for Molly??) it helps ; )

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Molly says:

    Just beautiful. You have so many lovely people to be thankful for & it’s so fun to see all their names down together, the names that I get to hear from you nearly every day, always spoken with love & joy.

    I’m grateful for you, too and for having the pleasure of working at your side.

    You are a blessing to me.

  2. Patricia Kolstad says:

    My sweet Molly:
    You are so inspiring! I love the fact that we can be “thankful” and “giving” at the same time. I think about how I love to give hugs and speak words that tell my family and friends just how much I love them and how thankful I am to have them in my life!
    My family takes up the Alphabet pretty much and uses the same letter over and over again, like . . . Kari, Kori, Kristen, Bruce, Michael, Meagan, McKayla, Alexander and Arianne, Jacob, Madison, Sofia and Gabriella. These are the ones that hold my heart. But there are letters of the alphabet that describe my feeling of Thanksgiving . .
    L – Love unconditionally, O – overlook the things that that could break a persons spirit, V – Voice your love loud and clear. Make it know to those who hold close, E – Enjoy each day. Be kind and Live Well.

    I’m thankful for you, Molly, for I know you and love you.

    Aunt Pat

  3. Fitz says:

    Hi Molly,

    I’m thankful for your blog! Thanks for sharing and the reminder of having an attitude of gratitude. Here’s my give thanks list:

    D – Devoted wife and best friend Kathryn. Love her in a big way. Believe me she puts up with a lot from me.
    A – All my children. Not the soup opera, silly. Jack, Kelly and Teddy. Great kids who make me proud every day.
    B – Blessings are everywhere. I sometimes don’t always see and acknowledge but they are there if I just take a moment to enjoy them.
    E – Everyone at work. We are with our co workers more than our own family most of the time. I am grateful the wonderful people I work with and their friendship and dedication.
    A – Apples. Love apples. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I’ve been blessed with very good health and I’m thankful for that.
    R – Riding a bike. I’ve started mountain bike riding on the local trails in south Orange County. The scenery is beautiful; the exercise is great.
    S – Spiritual Life. I thank God for my many blessing.!

    And if you haven’t figured it out, I’m thankful for DA BEARS!


    • Molly says:

      I have to admit that when I first glanced over this and saw two “A’s” I thought to myself, “oh boy, this is going to be rough.” But alas, your genius slowly unfolded before my eyes and yes, I figured out that you were spelling out “DA BEARS” before you had to explain it to me. See, Packer fans are smart too!

      I want to thank you for how much you make me laugh! Even just this comment has brought joy into my world and put a smile on my face. What a gift you have Fitz!! Thank you for sharing it with me!

  4. Hi Molly –

    I love this post!
    A- I am grateful for the Air in my lungs, life is moment by moment, most people think it is day by day. We are never guaranteed the next day or even the next moment.
    B – Beauty I am thankful for beauty. There is so much beauty in life, we just need to stop and see it, everyone has beauty, sometime hard to find or recognize, yet it is there if you look for it.
    C – Child – I am oh so thankful for my child, no not my inner child, well I am thankful for that to. I really mean Jesse Joe, he has been the biggest blessing to me and my family & friends.
    D – Dogs, I love my three dogs, Lucy, Brodie & Izzy, they are so fun, so loyal!
    E – Energy, I am thankful for my God given off the charts energy that drives people nuts!
    F – Family & Friends – I am grateful for both!
    Skipping most of the next letters
    L – Lisa, I am thankful for Lisa and the greatness she has!
    M – Molly, I appreciate YOU!
    Z – I love to sleep and I am darn good at it!

    • Molly says:

      Hahah! I like this picking & choosing of letters to be thankful for but I am SURE you’d be able to fill them all up with your many friends & family.
      Thank you for sharing some of your “happy thoughts” with us Neil, you have some real treasures in your life!

  5. Carrie Bayer says:

    Molly, this is absolutely beautiful. I feel as though it was written just for me. As you know, I’ve been having a tough time for a few years. But in it all, I have found a few wonderful reasons to be thankful & have been able to show my gratitude to those who have shown me the way. Thank you so much for this amazingly written piece, you have enhanced my life & outlook in unbelievable ways! XOXOX Carrie

    • Molly says:

      Carrie, Carrie. Thank you for such high praise & kind words! It thrills my heart to know that this brought some small comfort or warmth to you. Thank you for sharing with me, for all of your constant encouragement, and for making me smile!!

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