Scary Mommy Nation – Thanksgiving Project
*Update: The Scary Mommy program has been retired. You can still see the local food pantry or Salvation Army for help!
No car, no job, no money, no turkey. We did have power, heat, and somewhere to live. I had a couple gifts for Christmas that I had gotten at yard sales that summer. We were doing better than some. With disability checks coming in we could cover rent, but not much else. We had moved from an old house we couldn’t afford to heat, to an area where I knew no one, had no friends, no family, no help. With a disabled husband and four kids the pressure was on as soon as the holiday decorations went up in the stores and the toy commercials started.
As a stoic New Englander I never think to ask for help, I always try to help myself. But that year was particularly rough. With no car I couldn’t drive to the food pantry, or apply for food stamps in the county seat. Never mind find a job in my rural area. I tried to focus on the things we had, having seen worse years. There’s always someone worse off than you, always someone more deserving. But I was struggling that year, as the days got darker and my pantry emptied. Family would send little packages of food from two states away, and my kids would yell, “Look! Peanut butter!!”
If you haven’t experienced poverty you don’t know how grinding it can be. You think maybe if you were a little smarter, the budget would come out better. You wonder how low you can turn down the heat without freezing pipes, or little fingers. You ruthlessly cut expenses, right down to school photos and a cherished team sport you don’t have the gas to attend practices for. You start using pillowcases in the bedroom trash bins because you can’t afford to buy two sizes of trash bags. You hope no one notices the holes in your socks. You make potato “cookies” because that’s all you could think of to make with what is left in the pantry. You do everything yourself so you don’t have to pay someone else to do it, including car and home repairs you have no experience with. You stick a two foot tabletop tree on a little table in front of the window and hope the neighbors are fooled. You endlessly calculate different bills and budgets, trying to find a better fit.
You tell yourself it’s good to be thrifty. There’s enough waste in this country as it is. It’s not a bad thing to not waste money. But the reality is, not having food security is the biggest worry there is. Not knowing where your next meal is coming from will give you a tummy ache even when it is full. Not being able to feed your family properly is a pain no one should have to feel.
I was a fan of Scary Mommy, having found it a safe place to ask questions and air concerns without judgment. The Scary Mommies on the community boards were very helpful and represented a wide range of opinions and perspectives. When I saw that Scary Mommy did a gift card giveaway at Thanksgiving I thought how wonderful it would be to have $50 of food, so much money would get me so much food. But there must be so many people who needed it more than me. And people as bad off as me willing to help. How could I take that gift card from someone else? So I stalked the message board and I read all the testimonials from mommies who had signed up in the past, and what a difference it made. I checked my budget again and tried to squeeze $50 so I could help a family, too. And I came to realize that I was not the only one in a hole, and if those ladies weren’t afraid to ask for help, I shouldn’t be, either. I applied for a gift card that day, and was approved. Having been approved, I didn’t dare change my budget. Things can happen, mail can get lost, and when you have no other resources to move around you can’t chance that things won’t work out. But I did plan my fantasy Thanksgiving meal, with turkey and stuffing, buying nifty things like butter and carrots.
And when that card came, I cried. I tried not to. I’m the rock of the family, I’m the mom. There will be no crying. I’m stronger than these problems. I’m tougher than my anxiety. I went to post a thank you on the message board, and that’s when I cried. Because I knew that someone, maybe someone reading that post, was the mommy that sent in the $50 that paid for our meal. And they would not know what a difference it had made. How happy one meal can make a mom. And how tasty a turkey can be.
From the Scary Mommy Message board post 11/2012:
“I just got my Thanksgiving gift card from Scary Mommy Nation. I teared up a little when I opened it, but was convinced I wouldn’t cry. No crying, nuh uh. So I had to put a little thank you on the thread for the Thanksgiving event, and by the end I’ve got drips rolling off my chin. If you’ve never been there then you don’t know how much a little help can mean, especially when the pressure is on during the holidays. Trust that these acts of generosity will influence people for years to come. These things are always appreciated, and never forgotten. Blubber, blubber. Crying on baby’s head over turkey, but she’s asleep and doesn’t mind. Thank you so much scary mommies! I love you, man!”
* Also see our Happy Holidays from My Family – A Gratitude Tradition for Your Holiday Cards OR
Thrifty Thanksgiving for Tough Times – Thanksgiving Blessing Bags
Shared with Inspire Me Monday
We hope you enjoyed our Our Family Thanksgiving in Poverty – A Glimpse at the Other Side of the Holidays post
Photo of kids courtesy of me and the nice Santa who let them sit on his lap
Turkey image from jdolenga on Flikr
Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project banner from Scary Mommy
Thank you for sharing your story. You sound like a resilient person, and someone who cares about others even when things are tough for you. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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