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Thanksgiving and Food Insufficiency

Hello all, I know I'm supposed to be NaNo-ing, and I'll be getting back to that shortly, but I wanted to talk to y'all a moment about food insufficiency. My local UU is reaching out and starting a long term community project dedicated to urban homesteading via sustainable ag.

Humorous cartoon aside, I'd like to talk to you about why the Kwanmasyulemakkah creep is not my thing. Thanksgiving is a time to think about what you have in abundance, and about how you can help those who don't have as much. Every where I look in the media, i see hating on poor people - they're lazy, they're unmotivated, they want a free ride blah blah blah. This is so much bullshit. I've been poor, y'all, arguably perhaps by choice, but I remember well the year after I was raped. I was afraid to go home. I refused to participate in family rituals like Thanksgiving or Christmas because my parents wanted to know what was wrong with me, and I couldn't tell them. All I could picture was them telling me, "you invited him into your apartment, Heather? What did you think was going to happen?" Yes, I was a screwed up kid, and to my parents' credit, that is not how the conversation actually went when I finally told them what happened years later, after my child was born. I think zie was two when I finally did tell about the rape.

But the year that the rape happened, I didn't tell anyone at all, and I didn't go home, and I didn't ask for money if I needed it. I paid rent and rolled pennies for ramen noodles, and I walked to a food pantry and sometimes peanut butter and carrots was my dinner. I didn't have a child yet, and so the choice of pay rent or buy food was a pretty clear cut one - pay rent and then eat what I could scrounge up. I can't say that I exactly remember what ended that period in my life, but I do remember that my grandparents figured out what was going on and started visiting me in the rather rough neighborhood where I lived and brought me food, and somehow or another Grandpa talked me into coming home to visit after I got pregnant.

And so my family got me to finish my degree and I went tio work as a teacher in a Title Ischool. If you're unfamiliar with Title I, it is a special funding program for schools that serve populations where at least 40% of the student population meets the federal income standards of poverty. At the school where I worked, the actual number was 70% of the student population at federal poverty level. For many of my students, the only meals they received were at school, and unlike me, there was no perplexed family looking to bring them back in the middle-class fold. What my students had were things like this:

"Miss S, I'm so happy my mom is getting groceries today!"

"That's great, Jim, are you guys going shopping this afternoon?"

"No, she's going to the food bank!"

Yeah. And the US is collectively poorer than it was when I started teaching 13 years ago. And I can tell you all that even though I don't come from a lifetime of poverty, the stint that I had with it does affect me. Every time I get paid now, I have the urge to buy a lot of food. I still fear food insufficiency, even though it's been years since I experienced it personally. So this November, I will be thanking Freyr and all the Vanir for blessing my family with food. I will be thanking Loki for always finding what I need. I will not be engaging in Kwanmasyulmahkkah creep, particularly of the shopping on Thanksgiving Day variety, because people in retail deserve a day off to spend with their families before the busy season begins.

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Lokean nun, writer, swamp witch. Heather is a Pagan monastic, writer, editor, and mother. She has written and edited for a variety of publications and social media, including science journals, romance novels, and technology blogs. She also holds degrees in education and speech-language pathology, and has a passion for historical linguistics.


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Tuesday, 05 November 2013

    Thank you for the insights as your personal story intersects our larger story.

  • Jamie
    Jamie Wednesday, 06 November 2013

    Ms. Freysdottir,

    I second that, and appreciate your willingness to discuss being a victim of assault. The patriarchal cult of female virginity, and the sense of shame which accompanies it, are a rapist's best friend. I know it wasn't easy.

    My wife and I donated last night to the local food bank, when we voted.

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