Friday, November 22, 2013

Being Thankful Shouldn't Be a Requirement

This year for Thanksgiving, I will be volunteering at a soup kitchen.  When I met with the volunteer director, she made a comment about some of their guest having a chip in their shoulder.  Well, I get that.  And I told her so.

Who eats Thanksgiving dinner at soup kitchens?  Homeless people that don't have a kitchen of their own to prepare their own Thanksgiving dinner.  People that are so poor they cannot afford the food to prepare their own Thanksgiving dinner.  People that have no friends or family that care enough to invite them to their homes for Thanksgiving dinner. 

I mean, no one says, "Hey, I don't really feel like cooking this years.  Let's eat at the soup kitchen instead!"  No one says, "Forget about homemade mashed potatoes, I want to eat instant potatoes at the soup kitchen instead!  Yummy."

I would be a bit depressed if I was homeless or super poor and had no friends or family that cared much about me.  I would be a bit depressed to be eating instant potatoes off a Styrofoam plate with a plastic fork at a metal folding table in a huge room full of strangers.  Wouldn't you?  And I am not always in a real cheery mood when I'm depressed.  Especially if I am depressed and hungry.  Are you?

Oh, don't get me wrong.   If I was homeless, I would be thankful for a warm room full of people, some of whom would probably even be friendly, where I could sit on a folding metal chair for a while.   It would sure beat the cold concrete doorway where I would later sit on the ground all night, trying to sleep, leaning against the cold brick, all alone.  The instant potatoes might not taste like what my grandma used to make but they would be warm and filling.  I would be thankful for enough to eat, thankful that hunger pains wouldn't be one more reason I would have trouble sleeping in that cold doorway later that night.  I would thank the volunteer that handed me my Styrofoam plate of food and I would clean my plate and I would linger as long as possible in that warm, crowded room.

But being thankful shouldn't be a requirement.  People living in extremely stressful conditions shouldn't have to be happy or cheerful or friendly or thankful.

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