I’m not really one to engage in holidays or other arbitrary social constructs, but the idea of intentionally crafting a whole day centered around friends, family, food, and gratitude is something I can certainly get down with... heck, it’s something I wish more folks did more often than once a year.

Thanksgiving has been a sort of “last man standing” among holidays for me, as it has managed to stay relatively non-commercialized, untainted by religious doctrine, and it doesn’t involve worshipping people who went off to fight in ugly wars. Sure, I enjoy celebrating birthdays with friends and fireworks are pretty awesome, but I’d be totally OK with never hearing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus ever again. Thanksgiving represents a much simpler idea for me: being thankful and sharing with others.

Even still, I have to admit that this year in particular I’ve found myself questioning what there is to be thankful for in the midst of all this election garbage filling the news and an unshakable feeling that World War 3 is either around the corner (or already happening). Of course, when I really break it down and think about it, I have a HUMONGOUS list of things I’m EXTREMELY thankful for... but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sometimes *feel* small when juxtaposed against a seemingly endless stream of nasty news headlines.

One of the things I am most thankful for is the community of people I’ve chosen to surround myself with since moving to Manchester from Los Angeles. Beyond simply making some great friends, I’ve also been able to take part in some phenomenal volunteer organizations, like Shire Sharing, a community-funded effort to provide Thanksgiving meals to New Hampshire families in need. I’m thankful that I’m able to donate some cash to help buy food, and I’m also thankful to be able to donate time for meal assembly, delivery, and warehouse clean-up.

And at a time where I’ve been feeling extremely jaded by the media—and the political circus they follow—it’s become even more rewarding to participate in a program like Shire Sharing, where I can look past the media’s divisive narrative and remember the power of human connection. I can exhibit kindness and simple humanity right here in my own neighborhood, helping others and enjoying the heck out of it. And for that, I am eternally thankful.