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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Each year, I help out a my wife's church on the day before Thanksgiving.  We hand out boxes of food to folks that are having a rough go of it.

We handed out boxes to about 30 families that had registered with the church.  Another group delivered another 40 or so to families that would not register, but their friends in the church knew they were having tough times and registered them up.  Most of these packages are literally left on the front step and the delivery crew plays "ding-dong ditch 'em" - they ring the door bell and run, as the families would not voluntarily accept the food.

I can respect that.  I'm glad the church handles it in this way.

I was a bit PO'd at some of the folks that came by for pick ups.  I saw a number of BMWs and other high-end cars, and a lot of folks with very nice "bling", fancy I-Phones and Coach bags.

I guess these folks might have recently hit hard times or may be are grasping at the end of their former lifestyle.  I don't know.  I saw the same thing last year, and I told myself I wouldn't be judegmental, but I guess I am being so.

It bugged me.

The Big Bird is roasting right now.  The house smells great.  We're staying home this year, just relaxing.

I got a 19 pound turkey.  I'm making my World Famous clam chowder, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade biscuits.

For three of us.  I think we'll have some left-overs!

This weekend, I'll take the carcass and make a few gallons of turkey stock.  I'll make 5 quarts of plain stock and 10 pints of Turkey and Rice soup which I'll home pressure can to use throughout the winter.

No yams - candied or otherwise - or cranberry sauce.  Both are inedible in my estimation.  Nearly crimes against humanity.  I'm cooking, my rules!

And no nuts or fruit in the stuffing.  Apples, prunes, walnuts, pecans - snack foods.  Stuffing is cubed bread, turkey stock from the boiled giblets, some of the giblets themselves, salt, pepper, sage, celery and onions.  That's it.

The rest of the giblets will go into the homemade gravy made from the turkey drippings and turkey stock.  It will smother everything on the plate.

Maybe I'll pop an extra cholesterol pill... ;-)

Have a great day with your family.

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Groundhog said...

Don't be too hard on people with fancy stuff coming to get food. After going through 3 jobs this year (between the wife and I) and currently being down a job, we'd look a little like that too if we were to come looking for food. We're not quite there yet but darn close. If you're upside down on your loans or in the middle of a phone contract it's kind of hard to get rid of the bling so that it would make a difference in your bills. You'll always have scammers but God knows the heart. Food stolen from the truly needed will not satisfy their bellies. That said, don't be too hard on yourself for not being perfect either :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chief Instructor said...

Groundhog - this has really been on my mind. I asked my wife if she knew any of the folks that had come by for the food but appeared not to need it.

It seems that all but one were truly in need. The group that coordinates the deal had a lengthy discussion about the one group that was basically stealing. They decided to give them the box, as the donations exceeded the demand. They gave them mostly fresh stuff that would have spoiled had it not been given out.

I think it bugs me most about being judgmental. Who the hell am I?

If I'm ever in that situation, I THINK I'd handle it differently - I envision myself selling my stuff before I'd ask for help, but who know?

I pray to God I never have to find out.

Anonymous said...

I come at this from a slightly different place. Most of the people who lost homes in the housing bubble were over extended. They had more house, more car more cell phone, etc then they could afford. When the bubble burst their finances collapsed. But many of them clung to the things that got them in trouble. I know a young family our of work collecting welfare with free housing and both of them have the best cell phones available but they recently got their water and electric turned off for non-payment. For a lot of people their problems are self inflicted. When you see the crazy things they have done and are doing how can it be incorrect to be critical of them?

Anonymous said...

I'm not so forgiving as you. I look at people with the fancy car and every accessory asking for help as a slap in my face.

I have 1 shitty car and 1 with a loan payment. It is a mini van. I often pass up little things that I would really like to have because I will not put it on credit. I don't buy that nice car that I would really enjoy due to not wanting to over extend myself for when something unexpected comes up and I need the extra $. I have a family of 5, 2 dogs, and 2 cats. Unexpected things happen all the time.

If you don't plan for the unexpected you plan for failure... I guess that is one of the reasons I read this site...

So why should I not look down on the people that ask for help when they aren't willing to accept responsibility for themselves?

Car payments are harder to get out of then cell phones. However, you shouldn't get into a car payment you can't afford even with a few months without working.

As a society we expect there to be the people who will get us out of a jam because we were too stupid to not get there to begin with.

Instead of making people go back to work we extend the unemployment benefits. So you don't make as much at you next job as you did at your last. I guess that means you should just not work? I can't stand paying in to a sociaty that isn't willing to take away the tit when it isn't right to be sucking on anymore.

suek said...

There's always the question of whether your giving is going to the deserving or the con artist, I think. We have a lot - a _lot_ - of people who stand on various corners with "Homeless" signs. There's one old lady who is at the local grocery store parking area with a shopping cart and a "Homeless, God Bless" sign. And she's been there every afternoon for at least a year. Sure makes me wonder. And makes me want to not give.

I've sort of struggled in my mind about it and decided that the blessing is in the giving - not in the receiving - so that it's my intentions that count, not whether the person is deserving or not. If I have to test every recipient for need and deserving, I'd probably never give to anybody. My problem is that there are so _many_ good causes...I wish I could give to all of them.

By the way...there's a site on line that rates various charities by the percentage of donation money that actually reaches the recipients intended. I'll try to find it.

Andrea said...

Just some thoughts:

That cell phone may be a company phone if they're lucky enough to have kept their job. Ditto the car. That doesn't mean they're not in dire straits. It just means they have a car to drive.

What if they borrowed that BMW from a family member?

Or that car may be their sole possession and the only reason they haven't sold it is they're so upside down on the payments they CAN'T sell it.

Maybe those fancy clothes came from the Goodwill or the local Outreach center. They may look expensive, but that doesn't mean anything.

And it may be, maybe, that they used those cars, phones, bling to fill the empty spot in their heart that God is meant to fill. Maybe God is using the empty spot in their tummies to fill the empty spot in their heart?

It's hard *not* to judge sometimes, but we can't know all things about all people. We just have to have faith and do what we believe is right. God will deal with their hearts and consciences.

Anonymous said...

You should see some of the people I deal with when at work. They have 4-5 flat screen TVs in their house, drive a brand new Cadillac Escalade with 22" rims, etc. But the reason they can do that is because they are on section 8 housing (which means the taxpayers pay for it, not them), welfare, medicaid, and foodstamps. So they take all their excess cash and buy what they want since we're stuck footing the bill for everything else.

Am I jaded? Yes I am. But suek is right, it is your intentions that matter, not the receiver's intentions. If you want to give, then give wholeheartedly and without reservation. You'll still feel good about doing it.

Anonymous said...

But anon, maybe that escalade is just filling the spot in their heart that should have been filled by god! Maybe they are upside down on those $1500 wheels and can't get rid of them. Maybe they got the escalade from their work as a pimp or drug pusher. You can't judge them until you have driven a mile in their Escalade. Don't worry about the fact they have fathered six kids and each and everyone of them and the six babay momma's collect welfare. They just want to fill that empty spot in their tummies (or someone else's tummy)...

Anonymous said...

My god! No I know how Obama and those socialist Democrats got elected! My god! We are lost. Our voters are stupid.

Groundhog said...

Wow Chief!

Looks like this post brought the Anonymous trolls out in force. Either that or I don't read your comments often enough ;)

suek said...


You mean you don't read the comments _regularly_??? spend way too much time underground...!!

This will toast your toes:

suek said...

Here are three sites that evaluate charities, on different standards, I think.

Andrea said...

First of all, I'm not a liberal. I vote conservatively.

Second, I'm not afraid to use my name. You should try it.

Third, the reason I'm passionate about feeding people isn't because I'm a liberal looking for a cause. It's because I grew up in poverty and by the grace of God and the knowledge we had to help ourselves, we clawed our way out of it. Not everyone has that knowledge and admittedly, many of them would not help themselves if they DID know how.

I don't think the the state/fed govs should subsidize a welfare lifestyle, but as Believers we're called to help people, especially the very old and the very young. I'd rather give them food than money. They can't buy drugs or fancy rims with a can of beans, right?

Anonymous said...

Our welfare system has destroyed millions of lives. There is great satisfaction in learning a trade and becoming good at it and working for a living and taking care of your family. This easy welfare handout is like cocaine and once hooked on it you cannot live a normal life. You are not doing someone a favor by doing for them that which they should do themselves.
You need to understand that just because you don't agree with what someone says does not mean they are a troll. A lot of people are fed up with our governments prolifrigate spending. It is no accident that the amount of money we have spent on welfare since the 60's is roughly equal to our national debt. Not only are welfare handouts destroying people but they are destroying our country.

Joseph said...

Go do Meals-On-Wheels (MOW), if it is like the one here you'll see people that have true needs and quite a few that are on their last days. Our family has had additional opportunities to serve others through MOW and it is a blessing to see truly needy people get something special. We've done the church food giving as well and frankly I got tired of lack of discernment which is often confused with 'not judging'. We're currently doing something similar to Anon (11/26 @ 9:07 AM) and it does get frustrating as our culture rewards lack of responsibility.

Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving meal. May 2011 be a prosperous year for your store so you can give how and when you want.

suek said...


I think there are different aspects to giving. There's the spiritual side, and there's the practical side, and then there's the governmental side.

Your personal actions, I think, reflect the spiritual side. You feel a moral obligation and act accordingly. I agree with you.

The governmental side demands you behave to support those they (the government) have determined should receive stuff, and they'll take it from you - even if you've earned it by dint of hard work. Personally, I think this is immoral use of governmental power.

Thirdly, which ever force impels giving, it should be given to those who need it the most, and _not_ given to those who are frauds and cheats. Private charities are more able to do this than governmental agencies, but anybody can be fooled. I don't know that there's any way to avoid that, and if your spirit of giving can abide the cheats then you shouldn't allow it to affect your choices.

In any case - there _are_ cheats, and it seems to me that there's nothing unChristian in trying to ascertain that recipients are not among them.

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea said...

I totally agree with you on most every point :) There is nothing unChristian about being discerning. Nothing. At the same time, we shouldn't be judgemental based on what we can see. That was the point I was making. Appearances can be deceptive.

When we were growing up, we never *looked* poverty-stricken. We were always clean. Our clothes were in good repair and ironed, whether they were old or not. We always drove a decent car-not out of vanity or entitlement but because breaking down and missing work was not an option. We never went hungry, but there was NEVER anything left at the end of the week either.

If you based your opinion of us solely on how we dressed and the car we drove, you would have thought us straight-up middle class. Had you dug a little deeper you'd have known that many of our necessities were bought with a single check the IRS sent us when they seized my dad's tax return due to non-payment of child support. (He hasn't paid taxes since and is 25-30K in arrears on child support. 25 years ago, that was a LOT of money, eh?)

To decide that someone isn't deserving because of what they drive or how they dress is, well, I don't think it's a good indicator of worthiness. There are *absolutely* fakes and frauds and cheats out there. Absolutely. And there are people who will do anything to get something for free.

And then there are circumstances that we just aren't aware of. My husband is laid off right now: if I borrow my mom's *nice, nice* SUV to run an errand, it doesn't make us financially secure. It just means that particular day, we don't have to drive that old POS Jeep.

Looks can be deceiving, that's the point. That lady in the borrowed SUV, carrying a company phone and a fake Coach bag may be a single mother abandoned by her husband raising a couple kids on her own. We just need to be very careful in our judgement of others and do what we can to minister to both their physical AND their spiritual needs.

Oh, and I'm right there with you on the governmental stuff!


suek said...

>>25 years ago, that was a LOT of money, eh?>>

True, that. Let's see...25 years ago...'85. Wow. That doesn't seem so long ago - time sure flies! (and an interesting perspective on mental perception...25 years ago seems a long time. '85 doesn't!)

In about '68, we rented a house that jumped in price by $2000 when the new freeway went in - from $13000 to $15000. 4 bedroom ranch on a standard lot. Big back yard. Today, the same house is priced in the $375,000 range.

But yes...appearances can definitely be deceiving.