Today, all the Girl Scout troops at M2's school held their Thanksgiving Service Project meeting. The troops donated designated food items to fill boxes for twenty local families. At the end of the day, families would have their entire Thanksgiving dinner supplied for them, including the turkey.
In addition to helping pack the boxes, the girls created a centerpiece for the tables and had the chance to personalize some leaves to glue onto the little Thanksgiving prayer that went inside the box.
M2 worked hard on her little leaf. I loved what she wrote. Much better than another girl's "Help the pore." Um, first of all, I don't think it's nice to point out to people that you are providing this food because they don't have funds at the moment--pretty sure they know that. And, if you're going to call someone poor, maybe spell it correctly? But, they are in 2nd grade and I couldn't explain to the Brownie (what with all the chaos and trying to keep our token Brownie Brat under control) how maybe we could not make the people in receipt of our boxes feel worse about their situation than they already do. My husband said, "Yeah. Kind of like writing a letter to a soldier that says, 'I hope you don't die.'" OUCH.
I also took exception to many of the messages the girls were receiving during this food-oriented project. I don't think I'll ever look at hunger and the availability of food in the same way again. After seeing Ethiopia and bringing M3 home, I have a really hard time listening to people talk about Americans being in dire straits. I know everything is relative and I understand that relative to others, Americans can certainly find themselves in need of help. But there is a difference and it's a glaring one and I cannot listen to idle talk like that without bristling. Nor can I say it out loud because it's intellectually dishonest of me.
The difference being these families likely have kids who eat breakfast and lunch at school. And, if it weren't the Girl Scouts, there would be some sort of opportunity for a Thanksgiving meal somewhere. Even something as simple as a neighbor noticing your child is hungry or you aren't going to the grocery store very often could lead to a random act of kindness. But, where M3 is from? Not so much.
You can go to school, but there is no food on a regular basis. You could go to church for help and find none of the physical food variety. You could ask your neighbor for food, but they are just as hungry and without as you so it does no good.
Every person receiving one of these boxes is receiving it at their home. And, their home is not a plastic tarp thrown over a string on the side of a busy street. Each family received a phone call regarding their drop-off time...which means they have phones and a way to get help to their home if they need it.
I'm not trying to be maudlin or to say that I don't think people here benefit from a hand. I know we have many times over the past seven months. Usually, we are the ones to give the hand. It's been quite the enlightening experience to have to take someone else's hand. However, even with the new realization and a deeper understanding of what it means to worry and wonder rather than remove that worry and wonder from someone else, I still would never in a million years say we were anywhere close to what M3 has seen, felt, heard or suffered through in life. Not even close.
I think everyone has something for which to be thankful in this season. And, the funny thing is, if they celebrated Thanksgiving in Ethiopia, people there would have lists of things they were thankful for because they have a spirit like I've never seen.
I'm thankful for the perspective that has come from my blue collar, small town, do-it-your-own-self roots that run right alongside my crap happens, we-are-not-a-3rd-world-country-by-any-stretch understanding.
I cannot wait to see M3's face when she gets a load of Aunt Connie's turkey, Mamaw's apple salad and one of Aunt Kristi's fantastic desserts. And someday, with enough work, I know she'll be able to feel and express her thanks in a real and lasting way.