11/30/2012 11:57 am ET Updated Jan 30, 2013

A Truly Transforming Thanksgiving From the Eyes of a Skeptic

Thanksgiving has always been my least favorite holiday. For the past 20 years I have chosen, for the most part, to boycott this holiday in camaraderie with my Native American brothers and sisters. In my early 20s, I was such a rebel. I would fast on this day in protest. I would show up to the family-planned Thanksgiving dinner, pray and give thanks with my family, and then seclude myself in the corner fasting, while others would eat. Since no one liked my antics, they stopped inviting me. This went on for many years until I had my daughter. I have never stopped her from participating, but as she got older I gave her some of the facts about this holiday, hoping she would take my side. That never happened, as she likes to 'gobble down' and she finds it very festive to eat and drink with family members she sometimes only sees during the holidays. Because I believe in freedom of choice, I have allowed her to partake in this celebration as is until recently.

For the past several years my daughter and I have started our own tradition. We're calling it 'Giving Thanks' Day. It's Thanksgiving backwards, as I'm sure you noticed. Each Thanksgiving we give first to those in need before we sit down ourselves and eat. I have noticed such a change in my teenager since doing this. She has learned what giving really means, and now enjoys volunteering year round. As for me, I no longer fast but eat after I give. This year we went to Coney Island and volunteered to serve those affected by Hurricane Sandy. We showed up at the Occupy Sandy Recovery center who sent us to a volunteer with Coney Recovers. They are both doing an amazing job, and they still need your help. We served with so many amazing people from all over the country. One of the biggest contributors was a Christian bikers ministry called His Laboring Few. Their tag is ' Jesus Loves Bikers too'. Check out the following slideshow and what my daughter, Huffington Post blogger Jazz Girard, had to say about the experience. I hope you had a joyous Thanksgiving.

Coney Recovers Thanksgiving Dinner 2012 Coney Island, New York