Yet again, I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon. Anyone still out there? Me oh my. I am going to get back on the horse, by golly. You have been warned.
Tomorrow, my beloved nation celebrates Thanksgiving. A day built on a myth, no doubt, but it has morphed into a tradition that I absolutely adore. Centering a day on gratitude and an abundance of food? Fabulous. Toss in football and a Star Wars trilogy marathon and it's pretty much the best day ever.
This week I watched a Frontline episode, "Poor Kids," that reminded me of some of the tougher times of my youth. We were poor growing up, and regardless of the income I make as an adult, I will always consider myself part of the working poor. (I've written about this previously here.) I don't consider that a bad thing. It has given me the privilege of having compassion for folks who are struggling, taught me resourcefulness, given me respect for simplicity, and has helped lay the path for my career in the non-profit sector.
But make no mistake, poverty sucks. It is grating, relentless, and can choke joy right out of you. Most heartbreaking, it creates burdens on children that should not have to be endured. Frontline's "Poor Kids" highlighted this beautifully, without any preaching. Heck, without much commentary at all outside of the voices of the children they profiled. (I suspect the jerks over at the Heritage Foundation neglected the voices of children in their widely criticized "study" noting how poverty just doesn't exist in the United States.) Going hungry, not attending school, and homelessness are all realities for a shocking number of families in the United States.
What I felt after watching this "Poor Kids" was immense gratitude. I am thankful that I have more than enough. I have a good job with excellent benefits that directly benefits my community. I work with kind people. I have a spouse who is also employed, which most certainly helps pay our bills. We both have health insurance. We have more than enough food. We are blessed with reliable transportation. I have lived in the same affordable apartment in a wonderful, walkable neighborhood for more than a decade and have a landlord who allowed me to be late on the rent multiple times during my leaner years. Most importantly, I no longer live in fear as I once did as a poor kid, a poor teenager living independently and a poor young adult. I am unbelievably grateful for that gift, and my heart breaks for children who must live in that fear and whose futures are in jeopardy due to the violence of poverty.
I hope you have much to be thankful for this year. I hope that if you experience abundance, you are able to share it with members of your community who could use a hand up. I hope that generosity becomes a way of life and that a good hunk of your "disposable income" goes to helping families who are struggling. Giving directly to folks you know, donating to food banks and other emergency services, offering up volunteer time--all of these things lessen pain, both ours and those we help. It's still tough out there, and we as a village need to continue coming together and helping each other through. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. And when you have a moment, please watch "Poor Kids."