The Spirit of Thanksgiving

“It’s amazing,” a friend said at school pick-up, “You can buy a goat for $100!” She was talking about the World Vision catalogue, where you can purchase livestock and building and school supplies for people in developing countries, as Christmas gifts. Nothing makes me feel more like a very spoiled North American than looking at the World Vision catalogue. It makes me revolted with myself. Cost-wise, my yoga mat is on par with a community latrine. My new winter coat and boots are equivalent to “Essential Health and Nutrition in Kenya and Ghana – for 100 children”. For the same amount that I spent on Lululemon tops alone in the past year, I could buy an ox and plough.

I was thinking about that after dropping the kids at school, how very fortunate and privileged we are, to have food and water and schools at our disposal, not to mention all the extras. As I pulled into our alley, I saw a man rummaging through the neighbours’ recycling bins, looking for refundable items and loading them into his beater of a car. I watched him for a few minutes. He was extremely conscientious, tidying up as he went along. He looked clean, and also sober. I thought for a minute about the mounds of bottles in our garage. I walked over to him with a case of empty wine bottles. He accepted with gratitude, introduced himself, and told me that this is what he does “for a living”. I said I had many more bottles and juice containers if he would like to come and get them. After giving him the bottles, I phoned my husband to let him know he didn’t need to make the trip to the bottle depot.

“ARE YOU CRAZY?” he exclaimed. “You let some guy going through the recycling into our garage with you? He knows you’re home alone? What if something happened, when would someone have figured out you were missing?”

Huh. Not for one second did it occur to me that I may be putting myself in a compromising position by inviting a strange man who was rummaging in the alley into our garage. At no point did I feel vulnerable. Still. Violent crimes do occur, and after all, it has been less than a year since a man tried to break into our house – with me in it, alone with the children – deterred only by my growling, barking dog.

I still think I was right. I still feel that man was harmless, trying to scratch out a living in an honest – albeit not quite socially acceptable – manner. However. The thought is still there, the “what if?” thought. What if?

And so on Thanksgiving weekend I am thankful, as always, for every blessing in my life.


  1. We leave our bottles on the side of the drive way every week for the fellow who routes through our recycle. I think of it as my good deed for the week LOL

  2. It is so hard to balance safety for yourself and your kids with wanting to help others.
    SO HARD.
    We’ve stopped exchanging presents amongst my parents and siblings and just buy something from the Samaritan’s Purse Catalogue each year.
    Who needs another trinket when a family can get clean drinking water.

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