Tried and Convicted in the Grocery Line

Have you ever been behind someone in the grocery line the first couple days of the month…they’re purchasing a LOT of food. And then, it looks like they’re paying with “food stamps” or whatever they call it these days, and your eyes immediately rake over their food choices. Are they buying healthy food, or junk? Sugared cereals, or healthy grains? Expensive cuts of meat, or cheap hot dogs? I’ve done that. I’m guilty. And I am ashamed for having done that. It’s none of my business.
I’ve had people make comments about what is in my grocery cart when I’m in the grocery store.  Well meaning friends scrutinize my choices.  The check out clerk might make a comment about some of my foods.  It’s none of their business, and I find it embarrassing to have that done in the grocery line.

Often times, that person using food stamps is a young mother with one or more kids in tow. That’s none of my business either. I don’t know what kind of road she has had to travel to get where she is right now.  I don’t know her circumstances, whether she has a chronic illness and is unable to work, cannot find a job, or has just made a series of poor decisions.  Who hasn’t made poor decisions in their lifetime?  Who am I to be making any kind of judgment about her life?

What I don’t understand is if we don’t have some sort of public assistance in our country, who is going to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves?  Yes, I realize the system is taken advantage of by some and it was never meant to be a career choice or lifestyle.  But what about those who genuinely cannot take care of themselves?  What if it was your sister?  Your grandmother?  Your brother?

I hear folks get very heated over this, over “welfare”,  and label everyone who uses it as a bum who should get a job.  There’s a lot of stone throwing by folks who call themselves Christian, too.  This saddens me, because I don’t think that’s what being a Christian is all about.  And if you don’t feel led to help someone, fine, but don’t label everyone who needs help buying groceries.  This is where love and compassion for our fellow man might be put to good use.

I really try not to judge, but I often fall short.  I’m a sinner who is far from perfect.  I also know it is only by the grace of God that I am not on public assistance.  I do not take grocery money for granted.  I don’t mind my tax dollars helping those who need help.

For those taking advantage or cheating the system, I’ll let God do that judging in his own time.  In the meantime, I will try to keep my nose out of other folks grocery carts.  It’s none of my business.


Turkey & Traditions

  In less than two weeks, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day. This is the day when families gather together to eat a tremendous amount of food, and give thanks for the blessings of the harvest God has given them.  

Most families have a tradition of what food is served, what activities they do together, if any, and whose home it will all take place. For those of us who have a few decades behind us, there are bound to be many memories of past Thanksgivings.   Most memories will warm the heart and perhaps bring a tear to the eyes, but all of them have helped mold our Thanksgiving celebration into what it is today.
The preparations for Thanksgiving seemed to begin days earlier for mom and grandma as they baked bread, rolls, pumpkin and cherry pies, pumpkin cake, and maybe some fudge and potato candy got thrown into the mix.  Noodles were rolled, cut, and left to dry.  A huge bowl of fruit salad was prepared, and fruit nut bread was already stored away waiting.  Everything was made from scratch.  I didn’t know there was any other way.

Growing up on a small dairy farm, our schedule of Thanksgiving Day events may have been a little different than some.  Mom was up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare and stuff the turkey before putting it in the oven.  Then she’d wake up dad and the boys to go to the barn and do the morning chores and milking.  I’d get to sleep a little longer and my job was to take care of my little brother, Joey.

After the milking and chores, mom would come back into the house and start cooking while dad and the boys went rabbit hunting with a couple beagle dogs.  When I was really small, I was allowed to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on our black & white TV, but as I became old enough to help in the kitchen, more time was spent helping there, but we all took sneak peeks at the parade.

Promptly at noon, dad and the boys would come back from their hunting.  Sometimes they had a couple rabbits, sometimes not.  They’d get cleaned up for dinner and we’d all sit around the table in our assigned places.  Mom or grandma would say grace and then dad would begin the procession of food around the table.  It was tradition.

We kids all grew older and one by one left the farm.  Traditions changed and it became harder to get everyone together for Thanksgiving.  Family members passed away.  Marriage and divorce happened for me.  Then one year there were only three of us to sit at the table together.  After mom passed away, so did the tradition.

For a few years, I was pretty sad at Thanksgiving.  But life goes on and I’m a survivor, so I began creating new traditions just for me.  Yes, it can be done.  For many years, I volunteered to work every Thanksgiving and that became my tradition.  Then I retired, so I had to come up with something new.  For a few years, I would put a turkey breast in the slow cooker and fix green beans and herb dressing in the microwave.  It wasn’t a feast like years before, but it was still a feast!  And I spent the day with my pets and watched Christmas movies.  It became a tradition.

This year, the menu is changing to beef stew in the slow cooker and pumpkin pie for dessert.  But the tradition of spending the day with my fur family and watching Christmas movies will remain.  It makes me happy.

As life happens, traditions can be a saving grace, or a bittersweet memory.  Circumstances sometime dictate that we make changes.  It can be exciting to start new traditions tailored just for you!  Traditions can also bring comfort.  I pray everyone finds comfort in a tradition this Thanksgiving, new or old.  It’s something to be grateful for.

Do you have a new tradition for Thanksgiving this year?


Autumn Comforts

20120717 Patchwork quilt-2Autumn is becoming a little crisper as October progresses.  We’re having beautiful sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s now, with a frost advisory in effect for this weekend.  It’s time to bring out the Autumn Comforts.

I love autumn.  It’s my favorite time of year and I could go on and on about it.  It’s probably the only time of year I get a little domesticated and bring out all those things that make this time of year a little comfier, a little more homey.

A quilt is the first thing that gets brought out of storage when the leaves begin turning colors.  Growing up, there was always a quilt on my bed made by my grandmother or mother.  The oldest ones were all done by hand, from the first seam to the final quilting, and were mostly made from leftover scraps of material of clothing they had worn or made.  It was not uncommon to find a mix of textures within the quilt, like denim, flannel, and cotton.  I remember one in particular that was made all in flannel.  Wrapping myself in that quilt made me feel so warm and safe.  I felt like I was the luckiest girl on earth to have it gracing my bed.

hot-chocolateChilly nights sitting around watching TV call for a cup of hot chocolate.  And if marshmallows are in it, even better!  When I was a kid, we made it from scratch with a mixture of cocoa and sugar, but now I gravitate toward the sugar-free instant variety.  It’s still good.  Hot and chocolatey, it warms the belly and feels like a comfort.

While I’m wrapped up in a quilt, drinking hot chocolate, and watching TV, I’ve usually got my hands busy with something, and a lot of times that is crochet or knitting.  Scarves are my specialty (they’re easy).  My preference is to make something without a pattern, all one kind of stitch so I don’t have to think about it.  I’ve lost count of the scarves I’ve made over the years.  Some I’ve sold, but knitting-blogmost I gave away.  There are many acrylic yarns I like for their softness and ease of washing, but there’s also nothing like having a scarf made of alpaca yarn wrapped around my neck.  And it keeps the chill from sneaking inside my coat on a windy day.

When I’m thinking of Autumn Comfort, nothing speaks to me more about that than food.  Cold air outside and a warm kitchen inside is one of the ultimate comforts.  The blend of spices from pumpkin pie filling every crevice and corner of the house.  The aroma of beef stew with carrots, potatoes, and onions simmering quietly in the slow cooker.  It is so soothing to the senses.  And who wouldn’t feel comforted by the decadent scent of banana bread with walnuts, freshly baked and cooling on the rack.

No home would be complete without a stack of books waiting to be read while image-2-817x10241the wind blows through the drying leaves outside.  Many an hour I’ve spent lost in another time and place through words on a page.  Whether it be romance, mystery, or a little chick lit, it’s all good to me.  I would put on my thickest, softest socks, snuggle under the quilt, and escape within the pages.  Comfort at its most luxurious.

Autumn is the time I treasure for surrounding myself with all things that bring me comfort.  What brings you comfort during autumn?