Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dec. 21: (off-topic) The Spaghetti Project

Everyone who knows me in "real life" knows how strongly I feel about giving - not just at Christmas, but all the time.  I'm going to veer off-topic for a weight-loss blog and talk about ways you can give without affecting your day to day life or your morning drive-thru coffee.  I don't mean to preach, but I do hope to influence.  This isn't about "religion" - it's about faith and love.

I've spent a few years recently being part of "the less fortunate."  As many of you know, I dealt with a horrible bout of depression that left me virtually incapacitated for over a year.  I had now choice but to go on welfare to feed my kids and keep a roof over our heads while I was unable to work.

Despite all of that - despite our lack of money - despite the loss of my house and car - I never actually felt "less fortunate."  We never went without food - maybe we had ground beef instead of prime rib, but we were certainly not hungry.  We had heat.  We had a place to live. We had medical care (God bless Canada!).  We still had enough that we were able to give, throughout it all.

How did we give when we were so broke?  At that time, every single time I went to the grocery store, I bought one package of pasta and one can of spaghetti sauce.  It cost $2.  There was never a grocery trip where I could not swing $2.  It might not provide a gourmet meal, but a package of pasta and a can of sauce could at least put some dinner on the table for a hungry family.

We also gave of our time - we helped elderly neighbors and people at church.  We helped by watching the small children of a woman that was ill.  My 10 year old pulled her wagon around the neighborhood and collected food donations for our local food bank.  My 15 year old unloaded all that food and volunteered at the food bank.

Fortunately for us, we have a higher income now.  We are able to give on a slightly bigger scale.  Now, by no means are we rolling in money.  We are still reeling financially from over a year without work.  The house is in foreclosure, bill collectors call constantly and I'll be bankrupt but next Christmas.   But it is all about how we prioritize the money we have now.

We participated in an adopt-a-family program at work.  I always tell my kids what the Christmas budget is per person so they can adjust their wish lists accordingly.  Not very sentimental, but we are a family of realists.  This year the budget for my girls was $100 each.  Both girls decided individually to forgo half of their gift budget so that they could buy gifts for the children of the family we adopted.  I was so ridiculously proud of them for this.  As a family we feel like we really made a happy holiday for another family less fortunate than ours.

I think that the key to giving is to feel content and joyful with what you have.  Everyday, I count myself thankful that despite the foreclosure and impending bankruptcy, we are warm, sheltered and clothed.  We have a fridge full of delicious healthy food.  We truly do not lack for anything.

I don't tell you about this to "toot my horn" - please don't think that! I write this because I hope to inspire others to give, no matter what their situation. I think the Lord works a lot of miracles at Christmas (and of course, the rest of the year) but sometimes He needs some earthly angels to help.

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