Oh what I wanted to say to the woman as she excitedly put four turkeys in her cart!
|Giving Thanks For What You Have – Not
by Marilyn Mackenzie
I watched as a woman in the grocery store excitedly put four turkeys in her shopping cart. She had gotten such a deal! She chattered endlessly to those around her, who really didn't care, about how inexpensive turkeys were at this time of year. She told everyone in the check-out line that she would put three turkeys in the new large freezer that had just been delivered and now sat ready in her garage for such "good deals". There was so much I wanted to say to that woman. But I didn't.
I wanted to ask her to donate those three extra turkeys to a homeless shelter. Or to drive to a part of town where she's probably never been - the poor side of town. I wanted to ask her to give one turkey to each of three struggling families that she could easily find, if she just opened her eyes and looked around her. I wanted to ask her to cook an extra turkey and to invite lonely people whom she knew to eat dinner with her family. I wanted to ask her to make sandwiches from the left over turkey she would undoubtedly have, and take them to the people who live "under the bridge". There were so many things I wanted to say to that woman. But I didn't.
Living in the United States, we are generally thankful for the level of prosperity our land of opportunity offers to all. And we truly believe that those who have not succeeded or reached our own level of worth have done something wrong or have chosen poverty over wealth. How wrong we are to feel that way.
I read recently that we define poverty in the United States as a family of four making less than $17,000. That means that every single parent with three children who earns a minimum wage is far below poverty level. People like this are all around us, and yet we choose not to see them. If we do see them, we believe they have chosen this poverty.
Our government supposedly guarantees that there won't be discrimination against age. And yet, there are growing numbers of individuals in the over forty category who find themselves being replaced by younger persons who will work for less. And, because we have become a society living on credit cards, a person who loses a job is sometimes just days or weeks away from homelessness. People like this are all around us, and yet we choose not to see them. Or if we do, we somehow think they deserved the downsizing or that they have chosen this poverty.
I have no solutions to poverty. But I do know that while countless families will sit around tables piled with mountains of food during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, there will be many not so fortunate. Perhaps if each of us are just reminded of this, it will prompt us to want to give to charities or to invite lonely people to our homes. If every family who has would give something to those who have not, what a glorious holiday it would be this year. I know God would be smiling in his Heaven.
***** Note to my frugal friends: I am not criticizing the way the woman in my story was able to get so many turkeys for so little money. That's what thrifty people try to do! Perhaps I should have focused more on the look of hunger and hurt on the face of another woman in line as she held her meager food purchases in one arm while holding the hands of her three young children. That sad woman was really what prompted this. I wondered whether that mom would have a turkey this year, and I wished I could have purchased one for her.