Every year, my family and another family go to Stage West (a local dinner theatre) to see a kids Christmas show. The kids get all dressed up and we take over one of the private rooms and let them run wild while we drink coffee and catch up. (Side note - Stage West does provide gluten free meals and it’s not much of a hassle.)
We do this every year in exchange of buying each other’s children gifts and I love the idea. I would much rather pay for an experience with our children than another toy. Let’s face it, by the global scale of things, our children are sick spoiled. Not to say that I am raising a Veruca Salt that needs a long visit to the Chocolate Factory, no, our children are just abundantly blessed – as we their parents are. There have to be thousands of dollars’ worth of toys in their toy room. Holy shit, they have to have a room for all their toys! We aren’t alone either, we are the average for our children’s possession, even a little low compared to some kids we know. But still, my children are blessed.
I have to say that despite their privilege, my children are not rotten for it. They remain thoughtful and giving and (most importantly) thankful for everything that we give them. As they get older and are beginning to understand currency, I find them to be far more conscious of preserving the quality of purchases. It makes me bloody proud. They, like many first world children, understand that there are people without the many things they have but I know for them that it seems far away.
Last year, as we were leaving Stage West, all in the giggle glow of seeing a Christmas show, as cheesy and poorly acted as children acts are, we noticed a line of cars running down the inside lane. As we are passing them, it seemed like these cars went on forever. In fact, it took a good seven minutes for us to drive past the line-up of cars to see what they were waiting for. And to be honest, I was a little more than curious, I was a little pissed that I had apparently missed something. What grand Calgary Event was occurring right now that I had not been informed of? All these people were getting to do something that was OBVIOULSY cool and I didn’t.
They were waiting for the Food Bank.
This line up of cars full of families was waiting to get a Christmas hamper from the Food Bank. This was the most powerful visual we could have offered for our spawn to see the impact of poverty in our city. We sat in stunned silence for a minute, feeling our bellies full of the meal we had just over indulged in. Trev and I had LONG talk with them about what it means to need the Food Bank and WHY you need the Food Bank. We talked about what it would be like to say, “Mom, I’m hungry.” And have me reply, “There is no food today.” And it wouldn’t be because Dad is lazy and just sleeps all day rather than work, it would be because we made the heart wrenching decision to pay for the heat instead of groceries. We would have to CHOOSE between feeding you and making sure you didn’t freeze to death -the thought of which tightens my throat and tears my eyes even as I write it. We showed my spawn that day that hunger doesn’t just happen in a foreign country, it happens here, with people that look and love just like we do.
We talked about how important the Food Bank is to this city for without it, there would be no way for these families to get their hampers. We talked about the volunteers and all the hard work they put in. We talked about how giving your time is sometimes the greatest gift you can offer. It was a very powerful moment in my children’s lives, one they talk about often.
Suddenly though, my son pipes up and says, “but mom, what would we do – how would YOU eat from the food bank.” And a sat stunned. What WOULD I do? I can’t have ninety percent of the items in other family’s pantries. I would be in serious trouble if we ever needed the Food Bank.
This year though, I am thrilled to discover that the Calgary Food Bank offers Gluten Free Hampers. God bless them. Now, Gluten Free food isn’t the cheapest stuff you can buy. I have always said that pound for pound a human organ is cheaper by unit than GF bread. It takes a lot more than just tossing in a box of KD for the food bank but I am going to ask you to splurge a little here.
1 in 133 Canadian’s have this disease, and some of those may fall on hard times every once in a while. They should not be punished. Please, skip buying one of your indulgences this year and grab a gluten free item to add to your local food bank. In Calgary, there is a donation box at the Calgary Gluten Free Store so head in there, buy a few things and make a real difference this Christmas Season.
IF you aren’t from Calgary, please contact your local food bank and discuss GF options for those with Celiac Disease that need Hampers.
And most of all, take a minute, every day, to smile to the depths of your soul and thank whatever power you believe in that gave you the abundances and blessings that you have.
For it is when we are the least grateful that the universe finds a way to make us so.