I know that this is not your typical holiday post featuring good tidings, good cheer and decadent desserts. For me, it’s a gentle reminder that I have SO MUCH for which to be thankful!
I’m thankful for:
I’m especially thankful for tonight’s simple meal of beans and rice. Beans and rice can be cooked so many different ways, with so many different flavors. They are nutritious, delicious and economical. You can feed a lot of people with a nice pot of rice and beans. And, you can dress them up with so many exotic flavors so that your family would never know that they were “eating on the cheap.”
Like most of you, I spent Thanksgiving eating way too much and, now, it’s less than a week before Christmas and everywhere I look, people are shopping like there is no tomorrow. Television commercials and computer pop-ups encourage us to buy more, buy bigger, buy faster! We spend outrageous sums of money and consider it our due! Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. But, it is so important to remember the reason for the season! And, I for one would like to just take a few moments to give thanks for all the little things that we take for granted.
I was blessed to be raised in a home with loving parents. Though we were by no means rich (at least by the world’s standards), I never knew hunger. Nor did I ever wonder where I would sleep at night. Honestly, I’m ashamed to say that I never gave much thought to hunger and homelessness. That has since changed.
During a period of almost two years, I lived in a city and rode the bus to work daily. On the way to my bus stop, I often passed a gentleman who lived in a tent in the woods, not even 30 yards off of the highway. “Carl”, a veteran of the United States Military, lived in that tent with his two dogs no matter the weather. Though he would accept gifts of food for himself and his pets, “Carl” was unwilling to go into a shelter because it would mean leaving his dogs behind. This may have been his choice, but for so many others, there was no choice. Not for the homeless men, sleeping under the overpass. Nor for the women sleeping on the stairs of the church..just trying to find a safe place for shelter. Without fail, there were people on the bus, trying to seek shelter from the heat or cold. One night, on my return bus trip from work, I encountered a family of four. This family had two young children and I overheard them, at about 9 o’clock at night, trying to figure out where they could stay the night. The children, with no coats or hats, were under-dressed for the subfreezing weather and, when offered the meager food my co-worker and I had on hand, eagerly devoured it. Even the children’s mother ate the tendered apple like it was the only food she’d had in a long time. Surely, this little family’s homelessness and hunger were not by choice!
The problem of homelessness and hunger are not limited to my home state of North Carolina. According to one source, “48.8 million Americans—including 13 million children— live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year.” (https://www.nokidhungry.org/problem/hunger-facts). And, “on a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness — meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.” ( http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/SOH2016 ). We, as a nation, and as a people, need to find solutions for these problems. No one…especially a child, should have to endure hunger or homelessness!
So, during this holiday season, give thanks for even the smallest of things, like safe and adequate food and shelter. Together, let’s find a way to help bring an end to hunger and homelessness!
Tonight, my family and I will eat our meager meal of beans and rice, in this case Chana Masala or Curried Chickpeas, and give thanks for all with which we are blessed…continuing to pray for all those who are hungry and homeless.