The bells are ringing, the children are singing, and the hustle and bustle of our daily lives just became a little more frantic.
Thanksgiving was our opportunity to gather with friends and family to express our gratitude for loved ones, our successes and even overcoming our hardships.
As the glow and pounds of Thanksgiving Day fades, we prepare for another round of family gatherings, buying gifts and decorating our homes. Traditionally during this time of year, most of us will celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza. It is a joyous time to reconnect with our families, friends and faith.
Even though we all grumble about holiday decorations going up shortly after Halloween, this time of year is still considered the season of giving. With that in mind, let's remember to keep in our hearts and prayers all those who are less fortunate. It can be as simple as dropping a few coins in the red kettle, writing a check at your house of worship, giving of your time, preparing a meal for a neighbor, or buying a needy child a gift. Mother Teresa said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
Yes, there is a commercial aspect of this time of year that many bemoan as taking over the true meaning. Consider that in the United States alone, shoppers will spend well over 600 billion dollars from November through January. Hundreds of thousands of workers have already been hired to meet this blitz of sales, before, during and after the holidays.
This is the economic peak for the retail industry, which for some small businesses represents the largest and most important revenue generating and sustaining time of year. If I might make another suggestion, the trend of online shopping has skyrocketed, but our neighbors who work in or own local businesses rely on patrons who walk through their doors. Where you can, take the time to shop locally.
Beyond all the spending, according to the National Philanthropic Trust, Americans are some of the most generous people in the world. U.S. donors give more than $300 billion to charity, with over 70 percent coming directly from individuals. In addition to the dollars, Americans also give of their time, serving on average one hour per week or 52 hours per year helping others.
There are numbers of charities that provide food, clothing and shelter for those in need throughout your own community who would benefit from your generosity. The vast majority of charitable organizations are managed by those with big hearts, trying to help their fellow man, but occasionally you hear of unscrupulous, heartless criminals who solicit funds for their own purposes. To ensure your charitable dollars are spent wisely and for helpful tips on donating, you can check organizations registered with the California Attorney General at https://oag.ca.gov/charities.
During this joyous time of year, you may hear people debate whether to wish Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, which if you think about it really is a first world problem. Whatever greeting you use, I hope you say it with sincerity that is supported by charity in your heart and deeds.
At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, many of us resolve to make changes in our lives, bettering ourselves and the world around us. I wish you all a blessed holiday season, and hope we all endeavor to take this opportunity to give more than we receive.
State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) represents communities throughout Fresno, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito and Stanislaus counties.