After a wonderful November (fast forward to 2011) of daily meditations on significant things for which I’m thankful, and realizing how centering each day’s appreciation was for me, I’ve decided to continue the exercise with a new challenge throughout December.
Sometime in mid-November I settled on a topic (“Holiday Wishes”), then immediately put it out of my mind, preferring to make it a daily, spontaneous exercise and not plan topics ahead. November’s medium, Facebook, is well-suited for such short, spontaneous reflections.
Then this week slammed me right in the face.
Among the many things I’m consistently grateful for is our family’s financial security. Sure, we “do without” a large number of things (to the great consternation of our teenagers), but we still have all that we need and much that we wish for. Our family car quit (quite literally and spectacularly), so we replaced it. We paid cash from our rainy-day fund and purchased a comfortably used one. We eat well (and often!) and maintain a generously-stocked pantry, despite the teens’ frequent insistences of “there’s nothing to eat in this house” (translated: nothing which requires less than a second of preparation). We have comfortable incomes, health insurance, and some savings. We have healthy families, time to volunteer, and disposable funds to be generous with. We work hard, spend thriftily, and eat very, very well. We’re proud of who we are.
We are also very, very fortunate. We speak of it often among ourselves. What we don’t do is share this conversation with others.
I pledge to spend this month on this blog doing just that – with a twist.
Members of our Sunday school class often say any one of us is just one step away from major catastrophe, for the grace of God (and mass transit). Our family understands this. We have plans (and savings) to keep the minor catastrophes from getting us down (aforementioned vehicle difficulties to wit).
Major catastrophe, like the tornado which ripped through a neighboring community last April and destroyed every THING some families had, and a recurrent brain tumor which took the life of a good friend last year, are completely another story.
I digress. I wander. I travel in circles (hence the license plate I want for my new vehicle: 2*PI*R). Forgive me.
This month’s personal challenge is to take a step toward understanding hunger and limited means. It’s a soft challenge, because we don’t have to sacrifice much (I’m holding onto that one for Lent; stay tuned). For many, many reasons (which I’ll attempt to explain over the course of December), I pledge to empty our refrigerator and freezer by the end of the year.
We will begin January fresh in countless ways (although of course I’ll count some as we progress).
That’s it. It’s that simple. A little crazy, and perhaps unnecessary, but there is a lot of history, meaning, and a whole lot of faith tied up in what I hope we’ll learn from this exercise. I'll explain as this month unfolds for us all.
A few clarifications:
We are focusing on using up perishable goods rather than discarding them when our ability to purchase goods outpaces our ability to use them well. We’re emptying the refrigerator and freezer. Our pantry, like our rainy-day fund, serves to augment and enrich, but we won’t be focusing on eliminating our stores completely.
We will NOT throw anything away. We will make the best use of the calories and nutrients (and financial investment) we’ve made in everything at our disposal. If it’s spoiled, it’s compost.
We are not putting ourselves on a grocery diet (at least not at this point: stay tuned for Lent). We’ll buy what we need, and even what we want, as long as the goal (EMPTY fridge/freezer) is met.
We are already frugal, already focused on using what we have well. THIS is a challenge to use even the difficult items (like all those "interesting" condiments), and to find creative ways to work unsuspecting ingredients into the mix.
Until I get a handle on mixed-operating-systems-media, there may/may not be photos on the blog. Check Facebook (be my friend!) for photos; so much easier to shoot with the iPhone and post there.
We are going to be very, very creative. Creative is good. In fact, it’s my favorite survival skill.
Wish us well, and please let us know what you're thinking. Keep us accountable so that what we say = what we do.