When Being Thankful Is Not Enough

This past Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a bounty of food. My mother in law put on a spread that would make most buffets seem small in comparison. I enjoyed the food and the fellowship with the family. But as most days where there is plenty lately I start reflecting on how blessed I am and look back at where I have been. The past, though now as I age ever so ungracefully, seems forever ago it also seems more real than it did when I was living it.

I was raised poor I suppose but it never felt as poor as those I have come in to contact since then. My parents where able to provide us with a safe home and we had food on the table every day. Sometime we didn’t have a lot but we always had food. If it got too cold in the apartment I had an extra blanket that I could use. Though the blankets were threadbare I at least had them.

Inside of our apartment window cira 1980ish.

Inside window of the apartment I grew up in (cira 1979)

Our clothing were either hand me downs or a few new items my grandmother would buy us. And we wore them out because there was no running down to the store and buying more.  More was not an option.

Because of this I have tried to be thankful for all I have. It wasn’t until I lost my job in the fall of 08 and struggled mightily with my personal finances that I started to be more focused on the reality of what poor is.  Then the tsunami hit. Cars and appliances broke down. Sickness came and doctor visits and medicine were needed. Tax bills came. Not staying legal with updated car, home and flood insurance was never an option.  Oh and there were everyday bills as well.The bills came and the money didn’t. I  saw and felt  what others have lived out for generation after generation. One thing I know now is I really never knew how it felt not to have as the expression goes  ” a pot to piss in.”* till that moment.

Through this new filter I realize being thankful is not enough. Do not get me wrong gratitude is very good for the soul but for me it cannot stop there. For me I must learn (again) that  even in my state of less I must still tell my money where to go. I must find contentment in what I have and  joy in simple things. I must give of myself first then figure out how to bless others in my financially diminished state. Then maybe I can truly be thankful.

*In medieval London, people did not have indoor plumbing. It was common to use a chamber pot as an indoor toilet. The chamber pot could then be dumped out a window into the street gutter below. A person who did not have a “pot to piss in” was poor indeed.

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