Holiday Giving Traditions

What are the first three things that come to mind when you think about the holidays? Chances are, food is one of them.  After all, we can’t get away from it this time of year.  There’s talk of holiday goodies, diets, dressing the turkey, and carving the ham.  I don’t hesitate to admit that I’m a self-proclaimed Food Network and Cooking Channel addict and I enjoy making a plethora of holiday sweets and other treats during the holidays.

However, after hearing a very sobering statistic the other day, I can’t help but think about all that I have to be thankful for.  It is estimated that 1 in 8 people in Cook County (which contains Chicago and the surrounding area) are relying on food pantries this year, many of them children.  I don’t doubt that those statistics are representative of other areas around the country, given our current economic predicament.

The mere thought of my children being truly hungry breaks my heart.  Yes, one could argue (and many probably do) that, “those families were in no financial shape to have children anyway”.  Human babies are one of the most helpless of babies in the animal kingdom.  It’s not their fault!  Snakes go searching for food right out of the egg, giraffes can walk within a few minutes, and even mosquito babies are immediately out for blood.  Human babies, bless their little hearts, are completely helpless.  It’s up to us to make sure they pull through.  It’s not until they reach puberty that they become real animals.

Think about this… many of us don’t think twice about making a “trial” batch of cookies, buying an extra box of stuffing to have on hand because there’s a great sale on it, stocking up on spices and splurging on a real vanilla bean for desserts, or throwing away food because we’re not “in the mood” for perfectly good leftovers.

My soapbox is a tad slippery… I’m not suggesting that you stop baking those delicious desserts or eat stale food.  And, I’m not suggesting that you run out to your local food pantry with a bag of groceries (although, I’m sure that would be greatly appreciated).  What I AM suggesting is that…

  1. we remain aware of everything we have and that we are continually grateful for it,
  2. and that we continue, or start, to look beyond and open ourselves to possibilities.  What those are is up to you.

If you’d like to donate to a local pantry, check out resources like FoodPantries.org to find a pantry near you.  Sometimes, a donation of money to a food pantry goes further than a donation of food so be sure to ask.

Food Network’s No Kid Hungry campaign provides lots of ideas about how you can get involved.

When I was a child, my parents made a point of involving my siblings and me in donating to a needy family each holiday season.  Sometimes, it was presents for children, other times, it was a monetary donation to a local grocery store for a family that our local social service office had pinpointed as needing assistance.  Pete and I are looking forward to developing our own traditions with the twins in the coming years.

Do you have a family Giving Tradition?  Please share.

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