Posted by Bronwyn W.
I feel like the beginning of this week is the deep breath before the real holiday plunge. We've taken down the Fall/harvest-themed items in the house, but haven't brought up the garlands and bows and wreath yet. The nativity set is still in its box and the weather has more or less cooperated by staying warm.
But this weekend will be the beginning of Christmas for me-baking cookies, making my great-grandmother's homemade caramels to give away, sending Christmas cards to friends and family here and abroad. It won't really feel like Christmas until I am up to my elbows in gingerbread dough and giving the cat a look that screams "Don't you dare...." as he sits underneath the Christmas tree, eyeballing which branch to climb.
Finances are tighter than usual this holiday season and it would be easy to worry about it (OK, I admit it, I'll worry about it anyway) but I have to give myself a reality check and think about how lucky we really are.
I read an article in The New York Times on food stamps and later found commentary from Howard Schweber, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who wrote: "One in eight Americans uses food stamps today ... and one in four American children. In 2008 14.4 percent of American households experienced 'food insecurity.' That's 49 million people, among whom about a third experienced 'very low food security.' And that was when unemployment was at 7.2 percent, not 10.2 percent.
Think about that: One in four American children uses food stamps today. Just the phrase 'food insecurity' sends a chill down this mother's spine. I am going to try very hard to keep that in mind the next time I am feeling whiny about getting up early to make my son's lunch.
Tonight when I go to get groceries, my son and I will be filling an extra bag for his Cub Scout troop's local Food Pantry Drive on Friday.
It looks like I won't be getting some of the cute holiday knick-knacks at Target that I wanted or a new pair of boots. We just can't afford to do what we've done in the past or get everything that we want.
But as I think it over, that is not such a bad thing. In fact, seeing as how we have plenty to eat, it might just be a good lesson for my son and my family. I believe that most of us truly mean well and want to help others. But I, like most people, am also guilty of getting too wrapped up in my own problems or worries and not seeing the big picture and giving enough thanks for what I have.
Maybe we can never be thankful enough. But we can do what we can to show our thanks by helping other people and raise our children to do the same. And we can try to buy two extra bags of groceries for the food pantry.