Like many people I know, I plan to be at my parents’ home on Thanksgiving Day. The family gathering will be just as you might imagine – there will be relatives we haven’t seen in a while, parades and football on TV and more food than any of us could ever hope to eat.
I look forward to the turkey and ham, to the dressing and gravy, and most of all, to pumpkin pie. Our plates will be loaded to capacity, yet I doubt we will make a real dent in the feast set for us on Thursday. We can count on leftovers to carry us through the weekend, when the frenzy of Christmas shopping begins in earnest.
Having more food than we can eat, however, is not just a problem peculiar to Thanksgiving Day. Most days, in fact, there is food leftover at the Crawford table. A lot of that is taken care of in the days that follow, but not all.
Some will get lost in the back of the refrigerator only to be discovered a week or two later, in the monthly ritual purge of the Tupperware. When I think about it, the amount of food we throw away is shameful. Breads mold, bananas turn brown, vegetables go bad. We can’t hope to consume it all. We always have more than we need.
It is easy to forget that we live in a land of plenty. We are enveloped by a culture that tells us that excess is expected, that more is never enough. Most of us know we have too much food, too many clothes, too many distractions from the things that truly matter in life. Some of us are under the mistaken impression that we actually deserve it all, if not more.
According to Oxfam America, more than 870 million worldwide people suffer from chronic hunger. Despite our many blessings, some of those millions can be found here in the United States. Many families in Columbia County struggle to put food on the table every day. Poverty and hunger are aspects of our community that are always there, but we rarely acknowledge.
So, tomorrow when we sit down for our annual feast, let us give thanks for our table of plenty, but let us also be more mindful of our neighbors who have little.
With a little effort we can all find ways to do some good. It doesn’t require a vow of poverty on our part, it only requires a little conviction. There are many dedicated organizations in our community where help is needed and where each of us can do something to relieve the problem of chronic hunger.
When we rise from our Thanksgiving banquet, let’s not fall back into our comfortable complacency. Let’s rise to the occasion and lend someone a needed hand.