Thankful For The Food I Had Been Given

A dream…

I was going to meet a friend of mine
So we could spend some time talking to each other
And get caught up on what was going on in each others families. (To hear the latest news)

She asked me to meet her
At the local food bank
For that was the only time she had open.
(She had young children.)

When I pulled into the parking lot,
I could see it was very busy. There was just one or two spots left for a car to park.

I found one not too far away from my friend’s,
And caught up to her as she was walking up to the building.

There were many people waiting in line
To receive their free food,
And we were towards the end of the line.

We talked and chatted,
Until we were close to the food.

Then my friend was next.
She reached down and grabbed her box of food,
And as I was about to follow her,
A man stopped me and insisted that I take a box of food.

So I took one, feeling like a fraud,
For I still had enough food to last us for another week,
Or maybe two if we didn’t eat too much.
After that, I’d be out of food just like everyone else.
But I still had hope that my husband would find a job
So we could get some money to buy some food.
He’d only been out of work for about a year and a half.
We had been living off the food we had stored up,
When we had the money to put into it.
But I kept thinking that there must be others there,
That needed the food far more than I did.

As we both walked back to our cars,
I could see the police man watching us,
Watching everyone,
And I felt a moment of fear,
That I would somehow be caught,
And prosecuted
For taking food while I still had some.

But no one was checking for identification,
Nor asking for proof of need,
So we continued on
Till we reached our cars.

I found myself wondering if I looked that poor,
That I would need such items.
But I then realized with a sinking heart, that I was indeed, thin and gaunt. I had thought that to be so thin was in fashion, but I sensed then, that I had become too thin.

I felt shame at this, for I could well remember the days when I myself had donated food to the food pantry,
Or given them money to buy whatever food they had needed to help feed the poor.

But I never thought it would be our family
That would need the help.

When my friend and I came to her car,
I offered her the box of food that had been given to me.
But she insisted that I keep it for myself.

She drove off, waving to me,
While I still stood there holding my box of free food.

I looked down at the box,
And realized that there was enough to keep a family of four going for only about three days or so.

Most of it, (all of it?) was dry goods.
Rice, beans, boxed side dishes that needed water added to cook it, pancake mixes and other such items. There was even an opened bag of white flour, rolled closed and taped shut. There looked to be about three cups of the flour inside it.
The box was an open pallet type box, that might have once been used for fruit or vegetables,
But there was no fruit or vegetables in it now.
Fresh produce of any kind, was hard to find.
I realized, that they had put all the items in the boxes,
So that everyone could see that everyone was getting the same thing as everyone else. (They feared food riots otherwise.)

I then wondered, if my friend knew that I’d probably have to be there next week, to ask for the free food right along with her, and figured that I could probably use a head start.

I thanked her in my mind, (and resolved myself to thank her next week when I seen her here again,) for giving me the nudge I needed.

As I was putting the food into the back of the car,
I seen that they were putting out some fresh baked goods,
As an added bonus for the people.

Many of the people had already left,
But there were still enough people left,
To receive the handout.

So I walked up to where they were giving out the bread,
But by the time I got there,
All the loaves were gone. A man there offered me to have three cinnamon rolls (dry and stale ones,) in liew of the loaf of bread. I gladly accepted it with thanks.
He gave me a brisk hug, and then told me to come again, and get the free food, and to not suffer so because of my pride.
(He reminded me of a dear elderly gentleman that I had once known in my church, who was always caring for and helping out others.) He then motioned to me to get in line for the cinnamon rolls with icing on them, that they would be handing out next.

So I did.

They gave me a huge piece of green plastic,
(not quite as thick as a tarp,)
But I was confused and went back and then told them that I had wanted the roll instead. (I realized that the plastic was given out to those who didn’t even have a roof over their heads or a tent to shelter in. We were not that bad yet! We had a nice tent waiting for us at home if we needed it.)

But by this time, the workers were in a battle between themselves, concerning some trivial matter of who said what to whom, and left the food to go argue it out inside.

The people were left there, waiting for the food.

I got tired of waiting for them,
Even though I was next in line,
(I had already waited for over a half an hour,)
So I lunged forward towards one of the tables that had a roll with icing on it, (not the ones with lots of icing on it that I had hoped for, but one with some on it all the same,) and was able to pick up the one on the corner of the tray.

Gasps of the people closest to me could be heard,
(and one saying “Hey! That’s not fair!”,)
But I walked back to my car, licking my fingers from the icing, and quickly, thankfully, devoured the entire roll.
(I think some of the others behind me in line, also tried to grab a roll for themselves, while the workers bickered away the time inside the building.) The workers finally came back out and finished helping the people, till all the rolls were gone.

I drove home, my stomach no longer growling at me, thankful for the food that I had been given.

I then woke up form the dream.

When I went back to bed,
I dreamed that I had somehow been given,
(inherited?) a bunch of rabbits and a pair of hamsters.
Even the cages were now mine.

I knew how to take care of them,
For the one who had them before me,
Had been teaching me how to care for them.
He was an old, old man, with no relatives left to care about him. He had recently died in his sleep, and left them to me.

The rabbits were quite big in size,
And I knew that they would fetch me a good price if I wished to sell them. But I vowed to do things just like the old man did, and not sell too many off at one time. I needed to retain enough good stock to keep the rabbits breeding.
I also needed to keep enough for myself.

The pair of hamsters were due to have a litter any day now. They would grow quickly, and also be sold to others, though maybe not as quickly as the rabbits.

Most people could handle the thought of eating rabbit.
But not too many could handle the thought of eating a hamster. The hamsters were enough to flavor a pot of soup though, and for those who could afford little else, it was still edible meat.

Some purchased a male and a female rabbit from me,
Just so they could start their own tiny rabbit farm in their back yard. Others wanted one to eat. I charged them extra, to kill it and skin it for them. Most found a way to do it themselves, for they did not have that extra money. Sometimes they paid me to do it in front of them, so they would be able to do it next time by themselves. I didn’t mind showing them. If I knew I would be killing one soon, I would let them know so they could come and learn for free. I wasn’t one of those charlatans who was out just to gouge their customer. I (and the old man before me,) were ones that the people trusted.

There were those of course, who still greatly struggled with the thought of killing a rabbit for food, but sooner or later, their bellies would growl louder than their conscience, and they would break down and buy one to eat. I would try to sell them the older ones, telling them that they had already lived a good long life in rabbit years, and would soon die of old age before too long anyways. They seemed to appreciate this thought.

I also stretched the skins out and scraped them clean, and then sold the pelts later to be used to help keep one warm. (I was not a good sewer, but I was good enough to piece some together for me to stay warm enough in the winter.) Some people didn’t want to be bothered with the skin, and I then told them that I would buy it back from them, for a little bit of money. It would take me quite a bit of work to clean up the fur, but if they had done a half way decent job of skinning it, then the work left was not too much for me to do. I could then sell it for a small profit, or keep it myself to use.

The pelts were not as big of a seller, as the rabbits themselves were. The meat, the protein, is what was in the highest demand.

I then woke up.

* * * *

The Spirits of Christmas

“The Spirits of Christmas”

It was December 24th, 2010.
Everything was ready. The tree was fully decorated, and the lights were glowing brightly, the presents were wrapped and tucked underneath it, right next to the antique miniature barn that held baby Jesus, His parents, and the wise men bearing gifts. Even our house was outlined in icicle lights, and the illuminated sign that said PEACE, with a lighted dove next to it could be seen by anyone who drove by.

But something wasn’t right, something still did not feel right, yet again.

This was not the first Christmas that our family felt this; for the past six or more Christmases had been tainted by these same emotions.

Christmas had become known in my family, as a tension-filled mine field, where at least someone (often more,) in our family started a fight with each other, over something small and trivial, and it would get blown all out of proportion. There were two Christmases that my husband stormed out of the house, not even saying when or if he would return. Usually, it was the kids that broke down and fought with each other, often over who got to open up the next present. There were the usual whines from those who never seemed quite satisfied with whatever had been gifted to them.

This was all very odd behavior from my family; in our every-day-lives we usually got along well enough and were very thankful for anything that was given to us.

I was determined that this Christmas would be different.

All of us noted that familiar feeling, of something not being quite right, so we stood in a circle, read some scripture out loud, and then prayed that we would have a peace-filled evening.

But once again, the fighting broke out among our children, this time under their mumbled breaths, (thinking if they were quiet enough we would not hear them,) so I immediately called a time-out, and went into the bedroom to pray.

“We can stop this right now, Lord!” I said to my God. “We don’t have to open up the gifts. If You want us to walk away from all this, just say the word, and we will!”

I stood there, under the cross, waiting for some kind of revelation or word to come from Him. But instead of addressing my words, He had me read Psalm 91, and after several moments it did finally have its usual calming effect upon me. He then told me to go back out to where the family was still waiting. This confused me, for I felt as if nothing had really been resolved. But still He nudged me to go back out into the living room. So before I got up to go, I told Him yet again, “Whatever you want us to do, we will do…”

The moment I walked back out into the room, one of my kids came up to me and boldly spoke.

“Mom,” this child said, “Jesus told me that we need to turn off all the lights.”

I frowned. “ALL the lights?” (This seemed odd; why would God want us in complete darkness?)

“No,” this child responded, “He said to turn off all the Christmas lights, even the outside ones, and then cast out the spirits of Christmas.”

Ah. Then I understood.

During our research on the history of Christmas, we learned that the pagan Druids would put lights in their window sills, in the hopes that as the spirits flew above them over the land during the winter solstice of Dec. 21st to the 26th, they would see the lights below and know that they were welcome in that home.

So we went and turned off all the holiday lights on our property, inside and out, and then came back to gather in the living room.

Everything seemed dull now, without the glitter and sparkle of the Christmas tree lights. It felt like even the holiday itself was pausing, waiting to see what we would do next.

We held each others hands, and then together we cast out the spirits of Christmas in Jesus name.

We then sat back down, and my husband and I began discussing the question of who would open up the first present. We then bravely decided to let the children decide.

To everyone’s amazement, they all quickly agreed. My first born son would get to open up the first present!

This son was greatly surprised. NEVER had he ever gone first in opening up the first one! Usually he vied so hard for that first place position that he usually ended up going last.

And so went the rest of the night. Cooperation, helpfulness, thankfulness, and patience re-formed the evening. No fighting or arguing broke out, and we were able to enjoy watching each other open up the gifts. No rushing, no tension, no me me me me.

Just PEACE!

All during the winter solstice, when we put on the Christmas lights, (any of them,) ill will would re-surface, and we would once again have to resort to turning off all the Christmas lights, and casting out those spirits of Christmas.

In the end, we realized that it was a price we were willing to pay. In giving up those Christmas lights, we found the PEACE that we had been longing for.

Thank you Jesus Christ of Nazareth for answering our prayers!
* * * *