I have been touched by several interactions that occurred during our recent trip through the Midwest.
Our first stop, we had breakfast with friends. They recently moved to a new community. After several years in private schools, they enrolled their children in public school.
They shared a story of their son’s first week of public school. The son came home with wide eyes and his mouth agape. He told his parents, the teacher made an announcement; If any of the students did not have enough food, they should privately let her know, because help was available.
The son was shocked. He had heard about some people needing food but never faced it first-hand.
His experience is a good reminder to me about my privileged life.
I grew up poor, but never without food. My parents had some hungry times during the Great Depression. As a result, they grew food, canned food, budgeted carefully and made sure my brother and I always had food on the table. Good food, but never steak, as I was reminded later on our next stop.
During our second stop, I had the chance to eat beef tongue for the first time in around 70 years. My cousin had some tongue that was given as a gift to his family. It was flown in special as a delicacy from a New York Deli. I ate it with eggs and it was quite good.
Seventy years ago, my parents served me tongue as an inexpensive meat they bought for a necessity; now I was served tongue as a delicacy.
Wow, how my life has changed.
My parents fed me tongue for meat. Jeny and I never went that far with our children, but we had to be creative to assure our children had meat on the table.
In graduate school. Jeny managed the meager budget and our food very well. We did what it took to put food on the table.
Fifty years ago, before government regulations prevented it, starving graduate students were given laboratory rabbits after the research was complete. The rabbits were the control group animals and nothing had been done to them; it was either give them away or destroy them.
We could not pass up free meat, so we took them. We cooked them and then lied to the children. When we served the rabbits, we told the children it was chicken.
Later, on our trip we shared a delightful meal with friends from my high school. Once again, I was reminded the context for my life is very different from what is faced by some children in today’s world.
One friend reported his church conducted a survey in a grade school and found 40% of the students did not have a bed. Their church has started a bed ministry.
The only time I have not had a bed has been when I chose to sleep on the ground when camping. I have slept on a cot but it was still a bed. I shared a bedroom but always had my own bed.
Our children had bunk beds—but always a bed. My grandchildren have always had beds and almost always their own rooms.
All of these interactions were good reminders to me; the difficulties I have faced, and the life we experienced with our children were not filled with the hardships many face today.
I am thankful, not prideful, about our privileges.
When I get up each morning from a bed, in a climate-controlled home, with good water and sewage, I am blessed.
When I can buy and take my lifesaving medicines, pick clothes from an over-flowing closet, eat breakfast from an abundance of food choices, I am blessed.
My thanksgiving could, should, and does go on and on. My hope is I am never prideful, as if the blessings are rewards for personal accomplishments, but always humble in my thanksgiving.
Little problems go away, big problems are made small when surrounded by thanksgiving.
Don’t wait for November — I hope you will join me in having thanksgiving every day!
Until next week