I just finished a great book called “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger. Since I’m not a book reviewer, I’ll try to keep the synopsis short. Some children (ages 6-14) are attending a Native American assimilation boarding school. There are bad characters there. The children escape in a canoe and have an adventure on the Missouri River heading for the Mississippi. Yes, it reads a lot like a modern day “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” But this book takes place during the Great Depression. I forgot to mention that they kinda sorta kidnapped the 6-year-old girl—she was their friend, and her mother had just died in a tornado, so it was a “friendly” kidnapping, but the law saw it differently. So, these kids were on the lam. Everywhere they landed, they met characters who fed them. Whether the person had none, little or more than most, they always made a place at their table to feed these strangers.
I love to try to imagine what it was like to live during different historical time periods. Yes, it’s fun to imagine living during the middle ages, eating mutton in a castle and all that. But what I’m really fascinated by is the Great Depression. In a time when so many of us have so much, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to go without life’s basic necessities. (Yes, we all have financial struggles, but typically we can provide food and shelter for our families.) Children lost parents and had to take care of themselves at very young ages. Farmers woke every day under threat of losing their homes, their land and their livelihoods. And most everyone went hungry. So to think of strangers taking in four extra mouths to share what scarce food supply they had is fascinating to me.
It’s not that we are selfish people. Of course, most or even all of us would share when we had an abundant supply. But imagine that you had to ration your food so that your family of four ate only once a day. Now, some strangers knock on your door and you get to decide to split your meager supply in half or turn them loose. What would you do? Would you invite these strangers over to share your meal?
Fast-forward 90 years and we’re in another historical time period. The time we will all remember as 2020. We will get past the COVID-19 restrictions and changes at some point in the future. Will you resume your life where you left off? I have gained a much deeper understanding of what it is like to be financially stable. My husband and I have both been so fortunate in our lives. As young parents with one income, we learned to go without a lot of things. As we’ve both built our respective businesses, we’ve been able to enjoy a little more financial wiggle room. But I feel heartbroken that so many people have lost their jobs, their homes, and have had to pivot and change their businesses and their lives, doing with much less than they did before.
The holidays, for most of us, are about giving. I feel such a sense of responsibility (welcome responsibility) for trying to make things better for my community this year. The political season always seems to highlight our differences. It can create an us versus them mentality. The holidays are a time for us all to honor each other and work toward unity, kindness and understanding. And a time for us to care for each other as human beings going through a strange period of history. Let’s find those who need a meal (literally and metaphorically) and feed them from our hearts.
From me and my family to you and yours, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. Even if it looks a little different this year.