Attitude of Gratitude
"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow."
-Edward Sandford Martin
I watched an absolutely magical thing happen last Saturday. More importantly my kids initiated and then witnessed a beautiful moment unfold in front of their young and impressionable eyes. It was one of those simple moments that gives you faith in mankind, hope for future generations and occasionally sparks a movement that sweeps across nations, oceans and continents.
Our weekend started like so many others, with a family tradition....morning donuts at Rose’s Cafe in San Clemente. My boys picked out their favorites and we all sat down to enjoy a sweet, albeit unhealthy breakfast. Being so close to Camp Pendleton it’s not uncommon to see Marines out in town. When possible I try to make it a point to have my boys shake their hands and thank them for their service... something my father did when I was young that I’ve never forgotten. This morning however was a bit different...
As we sat and planned the day, an entire caravan of Humvees and support vehicles, probably ten or more, pulled into the parking lot directly in front of us. Marines exited and then began to solemnly file into the donut shop. My wife quietly reached into her purse and pulled out twenty dollars and handed it to my 8 year old son. Logan didn’t miss a beat, walking straight up to the cashier an informing her that this was for the line of Marines now stretching out the door... The cashier announced that this young boy was paying for their donuts (at least twenty dollars worth) and that’s when the magic happened!
A man in his fifties standing nearby pulled twenty dollars out and handed it to the cashier, then a woman with a small child did the same. A group of contractors walked in from outside and passed a wad of money over the counter and then a young girl in a jogging suit followed their lead. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced... One by one the ten or twelve patrons inside and outside the cafe stepped forward and “gave thanks” by offering a token of their gratitude and appreciation to those who give so much for us each and every day.
The culmination of this event was when a man in his seventies walked through the door and handed over a one hundred-dollar bill. The cashier informed him that the tab was by now more than covered to which he replied “then keep it for the next soldier that walks through your door today”. I looked at my son and said “see what you started?” Tears welled in his eyes and mine.
Don’t Get Lost In The Stuffing
You see, as Americans, we are so blessed. Too blessed, one could argue. It’s so easy to get lost in all that we have, that we lose sight of the extraordinary freedoms that have been bestowed upon us by the sacrifices of those who serve. We become so focused on our own lives, paying the mortgage, taking care of our children or obsessing about the upcoming Black Friday sale that we forget the men and women who make all of it possible. The service members, firemen, police officers and countless others who allow us to lead our busy, comfortable, safe and often “me” focused lives.
When I sit down with my family and loved ones on Thursday, I’m going to say a prayer and think about the men and women who made this moment possible. The ones who allow me to feel safe and secure while I enjoy a wonderful meal and great conversation. I’m going to think about the families with heavy hearts and empty seats at their tables. I’m going to think about the servicemen and servicewomen in Afghanistan and parts unknown sitting down without their families to celebrate Thanksgiving. And I’m going to think about the heroes here at home who provide the emergency care, blanket of protection and security that we all too often take for granted.
“No, this Thanksgiving I am not thankful… I’m eternally blessed and grateful.”
Heres the thing...It doesn't take a Herculean effort to say “thank you” to the men and women who provide the umbrella of security and foundation of freedom upon which this country stands. It can be as simple as a handshake and an offer of gratitude or a box of donuts. It’s not the gift, it’s the gesture that matters.
It Begins with a Spark
So this Thanksgiving and every Thanksgiving from this date forward, my family is starting a new tradition, one that I hope takes hold, spreads like wildfire and engulfs a nation. It’s our way of saying thank you to the men and women actively defending, securing and providing lifesaving service to this great nation.
This Thanksgiving I don’t want to start a tradition, I want to start a revolution. Let me be the first to pay it forward…
I’ve included my email below… For the first five people who email me in response to this post, my family and I will make a $20 donation to the military, fire service or police charity of your choice, in your honor, or in the honor of any active-duty service member, police officer, firefighter or EMS professional you choose. I will respond with a return email verifying the donation.
Let’s show those who are actively supporting our county how truly thankful we are this Thanksgiving….I’m encouraging those who are able, to pay it forward in their own way. Facilitate a donation, host a service member for Thanksgiving dinner, send a care package to a soldier overseas, adopt a military family for the holidays, drop baked goods by a local fire station, buy a cup of coffee for a police officer or send a Christmas card or Thank You note to a soldier at home, abroad or in a medical facility like Walter Reed.
Let’s start something truly wonderful as we kick off this season and let those who are actively supporting all of us know that a grateful nation stands in admiration and recognition of their service and sacrifice.
“Please” leave a response in the comments section below and let us know the special way you’ve honored those who are actively serving. My hope is that one good idea will spawn the next like a wave of goodwill and gratitude.
Scott Seymour & Family
About Scott Seymour
The son of an avid outdoorsman and early waterman, Scott Seymour was born into an adventurous lifestyle. Having spent most of his formative years along the remote beaches of Baja California and the dusty backroads of nearly every mountain range on the western edge of North America he understands what its like to live off the beaten path and on the road less travelled. Those early years were spent diving, surfing, fishing, mountaineering, exploring, prospecting and getting lost and found literally and figuratively on a regular basis. While an atypical childhood it may have been, it forged an adventurous spirit and a thirst for life that has continued to guide him through adulthood.
As a collegiate volleyball player at UCLA, Scott developed a passion for teamwork and helping others meet their maximum potential. He went on to build a successful career leading and managing highly efficient sales teams for various national and global organizations. In 2008, feeling that familiar yearning for adventure he made a career 180 and for the past several years has worked as a bail and recovery agent in Southern California. Scott is also a registered EMT and first responder and will be starting the fire academy in January of this year with the goal of becoming a paramedic.
A self proclaimed “gear junkie” Scott can still be found most days researching and testing new equipment and strategies while stand up paddling, surfing or exploring the coastlines of Southern California or Mexico.
He resides in San Clemente with his wife and two junior watermen.