It was with mixed emotions that I picked up our Thanksgiving food basket at the boys’ elementary school Monday morning. We are Needy Family #7.
I am so grateful to have boxes full of food. I was happy to see things the boys would like and that I wouldn’t be able to buy right now: a can of whipped cream (Again with the sugar thing. Funny how that’s the first thing I thought of), frozen pies, granola bars – the healthy real granola bars too, not the fake, processed, cheap stuff I usually buy! Those boxes were jam packed with delicious food, and saying I am grateful does not even begin to cover what I felt in my heart.
I am so thankful to receive such help right now. I used to stock up on sales and had a small supply of food in our house in case of emergency, so when my husband left we had a decent amount to cover us for a bit, but over the past two and a half years that supply has obviously dwindled and what is left is an odd assortment of canned goods.
Some days I wonder what would happen if the human race suddenly died out and only my cupboards could be examined by future generations. What would they think of our diet? I have mulitple cans of chick peas, random cans of things like pimento olives, mandarin oranges, and more evaporated milk than I can handle (I was always suspicious of evaporated milk. If the milk evaporated, what is left in the can and why is it so expensive if it’s evaporated?)
I was happy to receive the food and thinking of what I could now use a bit of “extra” money for. Noah needed a comforter for his bed. I might be able to give him one for Christmas. We could turn the heat up over 50 downstairs. I might treat the boys to our local ice cream shop for New Year’s! Troy and Matt needed haircuts and were beyond the point that they trusted me to cut their hair. I guess they’ve learned from experience!
At the same time, I could feel some negative emotions clouding my thankfulness.
I was embarrassed and ashamed that we needed this food. I remembered back a few years to the Thanksgiving when my sister-in-law and I adopted a family in need. We proudly shopped and picked out items for Thanksgiving as well as other grocery items. We felt so good helping others. I never would have believed I would be the one needing help, and yet here I was. Needy family #7.
Maybe even stronger than the embarrassment and shame was the feeling of disbelief and the mantra that ran circles through my head:
“This is not my life. This is not my life. This is not my life!”
Disbelief. Did my estranged husband really have a clue that his children would have gone without if not for the help of our neighbors, family, and friends? I wondered what he did when he was hungry, but I knew his girlfriend easily picked up his tab.
This was a
THANKSGIVING food basket
though so I had to find things to be thankful for.
It took some effort, but I would not allow the anger or bitterness or hurt to conquer the joy and light that Thanksgiving means. I would find something postive.
My ex is providing a some more support now so we are doing better than we had been other years.
I would not follow that statement with a “but.” I would choose to keep the fear out, to let the gratitude win.
Finally, as I drove off our Thanksgiving food baskets tucked in the car and Kaleb strapped in the back seat, I thought of all the ways I would pay back all the people and places helping us. I fantasized about providing a $25 check for next Thanksgiving. Not only would I not need help one day, but I would also give help again!
And the year after that, I would up the amount.
And the year after,
and the year after,
and the year after…
So, in simply picking up our Thanksgiving food basket, I went from thankful and happy, to ashamed and baffled, to angry and…eventually back to positive and happy and thankful and determined.
If you donate to a local food pantry or church/school group, I cannot thank you enough. A lot more than food goes into and comes out of those baskets.
No matter where you are or what is going on around you, remember to find the good you have been given and be thankful this Thanksgiving season. Thank you again to the many people who have helped my boys and me. There are no words…
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your ancestors, so you might know that it is not by bread alone – that people live, but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3)