Last Friday, while driving my nephew to school, my mind was on the day ahead and all the things I was going to do. In the midst of my pondering, he piped up and asked, “Uncle Brendan, next week is Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?”

My nephew is a cute kid and he is so smart. His question caught me way off guard.

“Of course you, buddy,” I fired back, thinking more about my pending tee time with some friends than his question.

Luckily, just then we pulled up to school. He jumped out, and I was off to my normal morning routine: check in with the secretary, grab a latte, get a McGriddle and then play golf before starting all of the tasks scheduled for the rest of day.

An hour later, I was happily enjoying a round of golf with my friends and the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air on a beautiful day. In the midst of enjoying this great morning, my nephew’s question lingered: what was I thankful for?

Then, it hit me: I started to think about all the hard-working people, who every day help to make my life so much better. Each and every day, I rely on people to help me organize my day, or make a perfect latte, cook God’s perfect breakfast (the McGriddle), and care for my amazing beautiful golf course.

Yet despite how much I relied on and benefited from their actions, most of the time, they were invisible to me.

I rely on these people so much and see them every day, yet when was the last time I genuinely took the time to appreciate them? How often did I even say thank you? Quickly I was flooded with guilt as I remembered the times (many times) when I had been short or rude just because the line-up was long or my order was wrong.

Over the course of a day, each of us has countless encounters with people in customer service who help us. They are often not paid a lot of money and are often not even appreciated or thanked for the things they do to help us through our day.

Lying in my bed later that night, I realized that I could not change the past but had the choice to change the way I interacted with people.

I decided to challenge myself to do one nice thing a day for someone, starting with taking some donuts to the maintenance crew at the golf course the next morning.

Thanks to my nephew, I am ready to do more than just bring a side to Thanksgiving dinner; I’m going to not only tell this story but I am going to work on being better with people. Better with please and thank you; better with asking people how their day is; and being more grateful to all those who have enriched my life, including my favorite nephew.

As you get ready for your own celebrations over the coming week and the holiday season, I challenge you to do more.

Take time during the rush of the holiday season to appreciate your life. Do more reflection. Do more kindness. Do more laughter. Be ready to not only share what you are thankful for, but challenge yourself to show real holiday cheer by doing some good.

Find your own little way to make the world a better place; even if it’s just some donuts.

Brendan Ryan is a freelance writer in Lakewood who enjoys reading, traveling and golf.

This column was originally published for The Colorado Sun. The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization that covers people, places and issues of statewide interest. To sign up for free newsletters, subscribe or learn more, visit ColoradoSun.com.

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