My weekend was spent with a family, two generations. Gathered together for an annual giving meeting they aimed to work through a sizeable list of giving requests and agree on how much to give. The second generation had come from various states to join their parents in a series of giving decisions.
Different states were only the beginning of many differences between the siblings. It made for moments of tension, outright sib to sib rivalry and challenge, and at least one situation where mom jumped in to straighten out where one child was off the family rails.
It’s a story that plays out in families this time of year everywhere. Giving was our goal that weekend, but family stuff was never far from the surface.
Norman Rockwell’s famous Thanksgiving painting comes to mind. Everyone is gathered for the simple experience of sharing a meal, but even that painting reflects the many characters that will gather. Any time we gather around a table, there will be conversation, various opinions, experiences, and values. A recipe for disaster, laden with hidden rules and taboo subjects, or a gourmet experience of treasured stories and shared experiences.
Rather than fear coming together, make your Thanksgiving experience one that strengthens the family bond. Talk about where family members are volunteering, where they’ve given their time or donations.
Ask why they give their time and money to particular organizations; ask why it excites them.
A great addition to the Thanksgiving table is the willingness to listen to a family member’s giving story with a heaping amount of genuine curiosity, sans judgment.
Families who aim to give together, today or tomorrow, are best served by listening to the personal experiences of every family member. Finding even small patches of shared ground and measures of respect for individual decisions is a recipe for a family that can function together and share giving decisions.
Three Reasons to Listen
- The power of shared ideas and passion
- An idea that sparks a better way or a new opportunity
Discover a giving partner
Of course, you might discover you’re the only one volunteering or giving in a certain way. You might be trailblazing a new course for the family or planting seeds that won’t grow for a generation or more. If so, look for those small patches of shared ground, and especially offer respect for what’s different.
It is our capacity to care for others that makes Thanksgiving meaningful. We share our time and resources, and we can share stories that matter. Share your passion for changing the world and invite others to join you. Be thankful and pass the turkey leg, please.