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thankful pumpkin, amy latta, thanksgiving
via Pixabay

Happy pumpkin season.

We celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. The big focus on that day is the massive feast, football and maybe a little talk about pilgrims and Native Americans breaking bread together.

But, aside from a possible prayer at dinner, are many people focusing on the most essential part of the holiday: being thankful?

Amy Latta, a mother and craft expert, noticed the disconnect between the holiday and its meaning in 2012 so she created a new family tradition, the Thankful Pumpkin. The idea came to her after she went to a pumpkin patch with her son, Noah, who was 3 at the time.

“We need to stop and focus and be intentional about counting our blessings. To help do that in our family, we started the tradition of the Thankful Pumpkin,” she wrote on her blog. “All you need to make one is a pumpkin and a permanent marker and a heart full of gratitude.”


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In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Amy and her family sit down and make a list of things they’re thankful for and write them on a pumpkin in permanent marker.

By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the pumpkin is filled with thankfulness. Then, on the big day, it makes a great centerpiece that keeps the reason for the holiday in focus for the whole family.

"I was excited to get the project out there because it is so simple and requires no special skills or materials," Latta told Today Parents. "Anyone can do it, and I was excited to think about other families taking time to focus on gratitude."

In the 10 years since Latta came up with the idea, the Thankful Pumpkin has caught on around the country and people have been sending her photos of how their families celebrate the new tradition. “I’ve seen hundreds of photos of families, clubs, community centers, churches, and shops adopting this tradition, inviting folks to add their blessings to a pumpkin, a visual reminder of all the reasons we have to be grateful,” Latta wrote in an Instagram post.

Latta was really onto something when she decided to put the “thanks” back in Thanksgiving. Further, learning how to practice gratitude is one of the most important keys to happiness, so it’s wonderful that she's given us all a new way to practice it with our families.

Amy E. Keller, Psy D., says that practicing gratitude is wonderful for our psychological well-being.

"Experiencing gratitude activates neurotransmitters like dopamine, which we associate with pleasure, and serotonin, which regulates our mood," she told Verywell Mind. "It also causes the brain to release oxytocin, a hormone which induces feelings like trust and generosity which promotes social bonding, and feeling connected."

A decade after her little idea has caught on, Latta is grateful for the incredible response.

“I never imagined the little idea I had in my kitchen that day would encourage gratitude far beyond our four walls, and each year as I see it shared, I am humbled all over again to think that maybe it has impacted you too,” she wrote on Instagram. “Let’s be grateful together as we head into the holiday season. I’m so glad you’re here.”

Kristen Bell announces This Saves Lives new partnership with Upworthy.

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Every day, Upworthy shares stories that spotlight the very best of humanity. But if there’s one cause that unites us all, it’s solving child hunger.

In a recent poll of our followers, we found that child hunger is the issue they care about most. So today, we’re doing something about it. We’ve joined forces with humanitarian snack brand This Saves Lives to end child hunger.

This Saves Lives co-founder, actress Kristen Bell.

This Saves Lives was founded in 2013 with the goal of ending early childhood severe acute malnutrition. Its solution is simple, for every snack you purchase, they give life-saving food to a child in need. This Saves Lives has already donated over 30 million packets of lifesaving food in Haiti, Guatemala, Kenya and beyond. We hope our new partnership works to feed millions more.

“Will you join us? It’s easy and delicious.” — Kristen Bell.

Join us and explore delicious snacks that give back at thissaveslives.com/doinggoodtogether.

An Italian preschooler's Italian rant has people in stitches.

All people have a need to communicate, but the way we do that varies greatly from place to place. Every culture has its own communication peculiarities that make our human family delightfully diverse.

Not only do humans speak thousands of languages around the world, but we also engage in culturally specific speaking styles, speech patterns and body language, some of which are immediately identifiable.

Case in point: the Italian "finger purse."

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This is the most important van in NYC… and it’s full of socks.

How can socks make such a huge difference? You'd be surprised.

all photos provided by Coalition for The Homeless

Every night, the van delivers nourishment in all kinds of ways to those who need it most

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Homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Over 50,000 people sleep each night in a shelter, while thousands of others rely on city streets, the subway system and other public locations as spaces to rest.

That’s why this meal (and sock) delivery van is an effective resource for providing aid to those experiencing homelessness in New York City.

Every night of the year, from 7pm to 9:30, the Coalition for the Homeless drives a small fleet of vans to over 25 stops throughout upper and lower Manhattan and in the Bronx. At each stop, adults and families in need can receive a warm meal, a welcoming smile from volunteers, and a fresh, comfy new pair of Bombas socks. Socks may be even more important than you think.

Bombas was founded in 2013 after the discovery that socks were the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.

Access to fresh, clean socks is often limited for individuals experiencing homelessness—whether someone is living on the street and walking for much of the day, or is unstably housed without reliable access to laundry or storage. And for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness —expenses might need to be prioritized for more critical needs like food, medication, school supplies, or gas. Used socks can’t be donated to shelters for hygienic reasons, making this important item even more difficult to supply to those who need it the most.

Bombas offers its consumers durable, long-lasting and comfortable socks, and for every pair of Bombas socks purchased, an additional pair of specially-designed socks is donated to organizations supporting those in need, like Coalition for the Homeless. What started out as a simple collaboration with a few organizations and nonprofits to help individuals without housing security has quickly become a bona fide giving movement. Bombas now has approximately 3,500 Giving Partners nationwide.

Though every individual’s experience is unique, there can frequently be an inherent lack of trust of institutions that want to help—making a solution even more challenging to achieve. “I’ve had people reach out when I’m handing them a pair of socks and their hands are shaking and they’re looking around, and they’re wondering ‘why is this person being nice to me?’” Robbi Montoya—director at Dorothy Day House, another Giving Partner—told Bombas.

Donations like socks are a small way to create connection. And they can quickly become something much bigger. Right now over 1,000 people receive clothing and warm food every night, rain or shine, from a Coalition for the Homeless van. That bit of consistent kindness during a time of struggle can help offer the feeling of true support. This type of encouragement is often crucial for organizations to help those take the next difficult steps towards stability.

This philosophy helped Bombas and its abundance of Giving Partners extend their reach beyond New York City. Over 75 million clothing items have been donated to those who need it the most across all 50 states. Over the years Bombas has accumulated all kinds of valuable statistics, information, and highlights from Giving Partners similar to the Coalition for the Homeless vans and Dorothy Day House, which can be found in the Bombas Impact Report.

In the Impact Report, you’ll also find out how to get involved—whether it’s purchasing a pair of Bombas socks to get another item donated, joining a volunteer group, or shifting the conversation around homelessness to prioritize compassion and humanity.

To find out more, visit BeeBetter.com.

Jennifer Aniston shared her difficulties trying to have a baby in an interview with Allure.

For years, rumors of Jennifer Aniston possibly being pregnant have circulated through the media and internet gossip mill. Aniston has called these rumors "nasty" and "hurtful," but has largely kept quiet about that part of her personal life.

Now, at 53, Aniston is opening up about her efforts to have a baby and countless women are seeing themselves in her fertility journey.

In an interview with Allure magazine, Aniston shared that she spent years during her 30s and 40s trying to get pregnant amid the repeated, swirling rumors that she was.

"It was a challenging road for me, the baby-making road," she said. “All the years and years and years of speculation...It was really hard. I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it. I was throwing everything at it. I would’ve given anything if someone had said to me, ‘Freeze your eggs. Do yourself a favor.’ You just don’t think it. So here I am today. The ship has sailed.”

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Gay choir teacher breaks down when his class gives a surprise performance at his wedding

Christopher Landis had kept his marriage secret because he wasn't sure how students or parents would react.

via Pexels

Two men exchanging rings in a wedding ceremony.

Christopher Landis, a choir director at Hingham Middle School in Massachusetts, didn’t tell his students he was engaged to Joe Michienzie three years ago. According to Inside Edition, whenever they asked who Michienzie was, Christopher would say, "That's Joe. He's my friend."

Landis kept his relationship a secret in front of his students because he wasn’t sure how their parents would react. Sadly, even today, LGBTQ people still have to be discreet about their personal lives in some professions.

This is sad for the teachers who have to stay closeted and also for the LGBTQ students who miss out on having a positive role model.

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