The Latte that Changed My Thanksgiving

The Latte that Changed My Thanksgiving

I was with my daughter a couple of weeks ago, driving my 3 Grandchildren to school.

On the way I asked if we could stop at Starbucks and get a Latte. We had a few extra minutes, so she got in the drive-thru line and waited while each car placed their order.  When we reached the window the young man said, “the car ahead of you paid for your latte.”  With jaws dropped, we looked at each other. Really? This had never happened to either of us and that simple gesture gave us an “Aha” moment.  As we drove away, I said to my daughter, “You’ll have to go back and do the same thing.”  “I will mom, I promise.“ Later that day she stopped at the same Starbucks and she, in turn, paid for the car behind.  When she got back to the house the first thing she said was, “Mom, it felt so great to do that.” I was so proud of her & and the reward she felt from giving. She gave anonymously, knowing the person couldn’t pay her back. I’ve found that giving like that creates a “heart opening” experience for the giver.

For the past several years I have had the opportunity to watch friends, fellow team members at O’Connor’s, and colleagues, show just how big their hearts are by being great examples of selfless giving. Carrie, one of our outstanding Funeral Directors & her story in particular come to mind. If you remember a couple of blogs back Carrie shared about how she gave all of us at work the opportunity to donate clothing, linens, food, water and a myriad of other essentials to a family who lost their home in the Silver Fire. I was able to donate some things and I loved the feeling I got by giving back. Believe me, there’s nothing like it!

My point is this: Thanksgiving is a time when families gather and give thanks for the blessings they have been given throughout the year: a new job, restored health, a home, a burden lifted or a second chance. But as I ponder the word Thanksgiving, I see an opportunity for a different meaning; one that can sooth a lonely soul, comfort the weary, feed the hungry and bring worth back to a broken spirit. If you take the word “Thanksgiving” at face value, you can make such a huge difference in the lives of others!  And the gift of giving and receiving is two-fold.


If you would like to share this feeling of giving with me, I invite you to pick just one of the very worthy & local causes below to GIVE to.

A new unwrapped toy for an underprivileged child, a coat you haven’t worn in ages, or food and clothing to supply our local food bank. They would all make a significant difference in the lives of those who have extreme needs.

Coat Drive for Welcome Inn – O’Connor Mortuary is officially sponsoring a coat drive for this wonderful & local volunteer organization. Coats of any size can be brought to our Laguna Hills location and dropped off with our lovely receptionist, Diana. Click here to learn more.

South County Outreach – You can donate food, clothing or time to this wonderful organization.

Orange County Fire AuthoritySparks of Love” – A toy drive benefiting under-privileged children. Every fire station in Orange County is a drop-off location & they ask that the toys be new and unwrapped.

Age Well Senior Services“Meals on Wheels”. – $25 will give a senior 25 meals.

I’d love to here about your experiences in giving back.

Please share a time below in the comments section, or let us know if you plan on becoming a benefactor to one of our drives or any other non-profit that you’ve chosen to support.

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. Christopher Iverson says:

    My Rotary Club in San Juan Capistrano has an annual Thanksgiving food drive that cares for the needy families of San Jun School and the marines at Camp Pendleton. Just to be able to be a part of making these special lives complete on Thanksgiving is a blessing all of its own.

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Hi Chris . . Your Rotary Club is so wonderfully connected to the families in San Juan. I know of the good works that you do as a member and, as a fellow Rotarian, that’s what we are called to do . . “service above self”. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


  2. Lori says:

    Perfect timing and perfect time of year for this reminder to not only give thanks, but to give to others. I have gotten to the age where I definitely enjoy giving more than receiving. I have been blessed beyond measure and really do not need any more material possessions. The children in my life are typically my weakness. I have always loved spoiling my little “nieces” and “nephews” since I was in my twenties.
    Anonymous giving is my favorite…keeping myself in check and making sure I am giving for the cause, not the applause….
    Thank you again for this wonderful reminder…
    Thankful for you!
    xoxo Lori

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      So grateful for you and your “give to the cause” heart. We all should seek out a cause or non-profit that can help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. I love the fact that we are sponsoring a coat drive again this year. It makes me feel good knowing someone will be warmer than maybe they were before. We are blessed, aren’t we?

  3. I love your blog & the wonderful giving-revolution behind it. I actually had the urging to pay for someone’s meal behind me at a drive-thru this last spring. I had accidentally cut them off driving and felt horrible about it. It was my way of saying sorry & showing them that I felt they were valuable even though I’d failed to show that in my driving. I hope they felt it.

    I can attest to the feeling of great peace & joy in knowing I was surprising them & hopefully making their day a little better.

    Thanks for the blog auntie Pat, and for sharing your idea with our whole audience.

    I will be donating coats & other clothing this year and I’m more excited about it than I ever have been before. Love you, Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      My sweet Molly . .
      This blog was one that I loved writing about, and learning about what I would call the real meaning of the word “Thanks-Giving”. We all know the old saying “It’s better to give than to receive.” Well, it’s so very true. Most of us wait a lifetime to feel that deepening in our hearts when we give unselfishly. I know that from this day forward I will be different because of that one small gesture that surprised us to know end. Just think how someone who really needed a meal or a coat would feel by getting one without reservation. Unbelievable!!!
      Thank you for sharing your story . . . even if it was to say in some small way, “I’m sorry! You did great!

  4. Becky Finch Lomaka says:

    Thank you, Pat,
    What an appropriate message as we kick the holidays into high gear! “Paying it forward” is second nature to you; always looking out for others and lifting them up. Accepting a token of kindness from another person with a simple thank you and the vow to do the same for someone else is an amazing feeling. It does feel good to give!!


    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Becky . .
      You above many, know what it means to give back to those who have little and want nothing. Our aging seniors in South Orange county are some of our greatest treasures, and yet they life literally “hand to mouth” to get by. I do hope some of our readers will take notice and give the Age Well’s Meals on Wheels. I know how much this means to a senior living alone and on very limited income. It means a smiling face, someone who cares for their needs, and will be back tomorrow to see them again. It’s a travesty that we have this . . but a blessing that Age Well is doing something about it. Thank you for the good works you did on behalf of these very special people. You and I both know how important it is!
      Blessings to you and your family . . .

  5. Jeff Turner says:

    I love these examples we hear about from time to time of people being “proactively nice”. It isn’t hard to do, but it does require intention. The rare moments when I have done something like this have the ability to raise my spirits, but what it can do for those around us is dynamic and unpredictable in the best sense. Today and in the days ahead I intend to be proactively nice and find little ways to celebrate what is best in all of us.


    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Thank you my dear sweet friend, for sharing Tim’s mantra of being “proactively nice.” For some that’s can be a real challenge . . . for us, it’s part of who we are and what we do. Having someone encourage us is what we need, and I’m so thankful that I have you in my life to do just that. Finding ways to bring out the best in ourselves might take some doing, but it can be unbelievably easy. And what we get in return can be life changing for everyone!
      Love to you and yours,

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