Giving Thanks to a Soldier, a Friend, and a Stranger

If you have thanks in your heart but don’t have the words in your pen or keyboard, I invite you to use some of mine. Why? Because it has come to my attention that some people hate writing. It could be just people I’m related to (especially at homework time) but I suspect they are not alone. That’s why I’ve jotted down a few words that may come in handy this week for anyone that needs them.

There are many things to be grateful for. Such as the fact that there are too many to list here. So my joyfully incomplete list includes three people you may wish or need to give thanks to on November 28th: a soldier, a friend, and a stranger.


Somewhere, thousands of miles from home, there are Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors you’ve never met who would do anything to keep you safe, up to and including sacrificing their lives. They raised their hand and took this on. However, choosing this life doesn’t make their hearts less vulnerable. If anything, they appreciate the moments with their loved ones even more. Everyday things like reading to your child at bedtime become like treasure.

I know you’ve probably heard the words, “remember the troops” a thousand times. Possibly a few of those times were me. But the truth is that it’s important they know they are not alone.

One way to remember them is to send a thank-you with coffee through Cup of Joe (COJ) Below are two options if you’d like to do this but need some ideas on what to write:

1. Simply replace the underlined details with your own.

Dear Service member,  My two brothers, sister-in-laws, their kids, my parents, and 2 dogs are all headed to my place for Thanksgiving and then sleeping over. Along with my family (husband, 2 kids 1 dog, 1 cat, 1 turtle) this is the recipe for craziness. The very best kind. Sure, every dish may or may not turn out perfectly. Someone may or may not fight over the X-box. But this much is certain: we are grateful for your help in making this day possible. Because of what you do, we have the freedom to be together in safety. Thank you for this on Thanksgiving and every day. Sincerely ___________________

If you’re not hosting the dinner, you can change the opening to reflect your plans, “We’re headed to _________”

2. Copy or change as you like.

Dear Service member, It is Thanksgiving and you may be far from home, but you are not far from our thoughts. It is your service, and that of your brothers and sisters in arms that allow us to gather at the table, free from fear. Not everyone in the world enjoys this amazing gift. So, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Please tell your family that my family thanks them as well. Sincerely_________

Each cup of coffee you send costs $2. You can even send just one.

A friend 

My family is spread out from NY to the Pacific Rim (that’s geographic, not cinematic.) For me, Thanksgiving usually means heading to Nancy’s house on Long Island. If you’re headed to a friend’s and want to include a note along with the wine or pumpkin pie you’ll be bringing, here are my words:

Dear Nancy,  Just wanted to say thank you for including us and making us feel like family. Knowing we have a place to call home for the holidays means more than I can say. Not having to cook for five hours is also pretty exciting too. Thank you for all of it. You rock. xo, Gina

A stranger 

For the first time ever, I’m traveling ON Thanksgiving Day. I’m taking my daughter Sofia to Florida to see Grandma and Grandpa. For the journey through La Guardia Airport, we’re bringing a bag of candy to share. It’s for the Policemen, TSA agents, gate agent, flight attendants or whomever we meet. Maybe they wanted to work, maybe they got stuck with the shift. Either way, there are probably slightly more desirable ways to spend a day devoted to family than x-raying a stranger’s carry-on luggage. Plus, since holiday travel can be stressful, any drop of kindness is probably a good thing.

This time, the words we’ll use are simple and what I wish for you and those you love:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Some of the candy we'll give out at LaGuardia Airport on Thanksgiving Day

Some of the candy we’ll give out at LaGuardia Airport on Thanksgiving Day

© Gina left the mall, 2013

18 thoughts on “Giving Thanks to a Soldier, a Friend, and a Stranger

    • also – funny link to Pacific Rim.

      Anyway- I just bought my second cup of Joe. Only this time i bought 15 cups instead of one. And donated $20 to the Snowball org as well. Thank you for always inspiring me and others!!

      • Caren, YOU rock!!! Thank you for taking action and spreading some love and appreciation to places and people that need it!! Thank you always for the kind words and encouragement 🙂

        And yes…lol, I wanted to be clear that my family does not reside in the world found in the movie Pacific Rim. Monstrous sea creatures do not make for happy holidays.

  1. Thanks for the letter ideas, I wrote a letter but decided maybe it wasn’t good enough.Now I think that maybe it was okay to tell them about our family and all our animals. Maybe they would find that interesting. I will give it another try. Thanks for everything, Gina!!!You are #1!!!!!

    • Nana, never think it’s not good enough! The kindness and caring in the effort make it perfect. I also love adding details (such as your family and animals) because it’s paints a picture…helping give the receiver a break from their current locale. It’s also sharing a part of you. Which is a wonderful thing to do. I’m glad this post encouraged you to give it another try. And I thank YOU for everything!

  2. Gina, it’s amazing how one generous thought leads to another. Your caring and your thoughtfulness helps us all to be more caring and thoughtful. Everyone, I’m sure, would like to be appreciated for the work they do. Safe travels and have a lovely Thanksgiving.

    • NP, thank you for this beautiful comment! It means a lot. As for the airport…I’m hoping that adding some kindness to our travels may even have a ripple effect. At least for the person in line behind us 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!

    • Thank you! Things were tense at the airport and you could the immediate positive effect Sofia & her candy bag had on the gate agents…lol. We had decorated the outside of the bag and handed to the crew when we boarded. Sofia told them, “Thank you for helping me get to Grandma’s house today.” They were surprised and touched and later made an announcement thanking her. Big smiles all around. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!

  3. First let me say thanks. You are my most consistent reader. I appreciate that. Second, I wan to say that I love what you are doing with the troops. I have read this previously but did not respond and I should have. When I was in the first Gulf War “Any Service Member” letters came and they came sometimes very few and sometimes a lot. I took it upon myself to get my hands on every one that I could that wasn’t going to be answered, and I answered them I loved it. I was reading letters form first graders all the way up to college students and grandparents. Not only did it make me proud to make sure that they got a response from their soldier, but it also helped pass time and make things a little easier why there. GOOD WORK!!!!!

  4. Hi it308 my name is Kyndal. I am a bi fan and a big supporter of the troops!!! I saw where your said that were in the first Gulf War. I would just like to tell you “Thank You” for your wonderful service to our country!!!!

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