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Archive for November, 2013

Reflections on Thanksgivukkah

Reflections on Thanksgivikkah

This was actually written on Wednesday but for some reason it never posted…so here goes with updates.

On this eve of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah or Thanksgivikkah, I am thinking of all the things that make this year different from all the rest. This year is unique in that the alignment of the two holidays is a once in more than 70,000-year event. So I guess you can say we are all experiencing a once in a lifetime (unless you plan to be around for another 70,000 years) occurrence.

My reflections are many and my thoughts are scattered. But they are my scattered thoughts of the past week and then some and at this point they are ramblings of someone who is very tired…LOL.

In the past few weeks, we at the Pantry have had the blessing of meeting some very unique people. From being serenated with a beautiful hymn as a thank you… to witnessing people holding back tears for the food they receive. More so now than ever, I think our mission is clear and our impact is far reaching. To know that we have provided to someone in need is so gratifying. They are not asking for the world, they are asking for food… and in some cases, their next few meals. A tattered gentleman with his head hanging low came and knocked on the door Monday looking for just a loaf of bread when the pantry was not open. We had run out of bread but when he left, it was with a smile and pure gratitude. I believed at that moment that we had lived up to our mission of helping those who are having a crisis – our door may have been locked and we may have been done for the day but there was more work to do – hunger is an everyday issue for many and we rose to the occasion.

Tuesday on my way to work, I witnessed a very touching moment. On most days there is always someone soliciting drivers getting off the Parkway/Route 15. I am not sure what their signs might say as I am at the intersection and not coming off the parkway. Anyway, most drivers ignore the men. But yesterday, a man reached out his window and gave the gentlemen a bill. I was at the light a few cars back so I have no idea what denomination or how many bills he gave the man. But as the light changed for the exit ramp, and the cars started moving, the man who received the bill put his sign down and knelt on the ground. He did the sign of the cross and prayed with head bowed and hands clasped. Several other cars had their windows open to give him something, but the man did not stir. He continued to pray – giving up a chance for additional money. My light then changed and I was forced to drive or otherwise I would have to put up with the honking and impatience of Litchfield Turnpike drivers. I felt so humble to see such a sight and went into work relaying what I saw…and it is still top of mind for me.

As I have mentioned in previous face book posts, thinking back on the past few weeks, (and every week for that matter) I am so grateful for the JFS Pantry volunteers, the parents and kids who helped pack the bags, and ALL those who dedicate their free time to help others and also help me in so many ways. Whether is was a listening ear, a second set of eyes, counting and schlepping or making appointments, everyone did their part and so much more. This year, we went into our Annual Thanksgiving distribution with only one volunteer who had experienced it from previous years and lines that previous stretched a block away. We have a whole new crew since moving into the new location. Preparing for our Annual Thanksgiving distribution took a lot of time, effort (especially since this year we gave each client a specific time to show up over a two day period), muscle power and goodwill to pull off and we did it … NEW CREW AND ALL!!!!! I cannot thank my volunteers enough for their hard work, humor, and everything that goes with putting together our distribution and this year we served a record number of clients and emergency families. There were minimal lines if any and if any of you can believe this … I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO COMPLAINTS (which is a first if you know me, LOL). The distribution days were nearly perfect. The precision was excellent, the execution was outstanding, the company was great and actually… the clients seemed happy, grateful and full of hugs, smiles and kisses (yes, I had several lipstick marks on my cheek – which were immediately rubbed off by embarrassed clients…LOL) .

I also want to say that along with my Pantry volunteers, I have the best friends and some of the best co-workers in the world. They gave up their time to help me in the most stressful of times over the past few weeks and on weekends. They were ready to listen and jumped at a call to action and because of them, I was able to breath easy going into Sunday and Monday of this week. On top of that, they were relentless with checking in on me with early morning texts, emails checking in and phone calls after work. As for my co-workers, many had to put up with my ranting and raving but through it all, they came through – whether consistently or at the last minute. Monday and Tuesday many JFS staff came in to the Pantry to check if we needed help or anything and when we did, we took them up on their offer.

Looking back on Wednesday, I am grateful that the Pantry did NOT sustain any major issues or damage after it was flooded due to the heavy rains and the irresponsibility of another business (tenant) in the strip mall that has blocked the drainage of water in the back of the strip mall with their play area and mulch. The water receded but in some areas of the pantry it was at least an inch deep and for those who know the pantry layout, the water made it up to the sign in desk and the computer was sitting in water. The refrigerators and freezers were also sitting in water and the residue of mulch and dirt that came in with the water. I am thankful that the landlord of the building cleaned up the mess and sanitized the floors as this could be detrimental to the Food Pantry if left untouched as mold and parasites could destroy the food, etc.

Wednesday I also had a rude awakening and shook my head in disbelief and felt sorry for others at Stop and Shop. I went in for cat food and a few necessities after work and you would think it was the end of the world. People driving carriages into each other, people grabbing at the turkeys before the man was able to unpack them from the cases, Long lines with people complaining, someone cutting off another who had been waiting for a parking space. Come on now!!???? WTF!!! As I got in my car to drive the two minutes home, it took me nearly 15 minutes. Cars blocking the intersection, continuous beeping, someone yelling with an open window using vulgarities for no reason, pounding on the steering wheel. It makes me wonder if it is just today or are they like that all the time. Yet, tomorrow, regardless … these people who were at Stop and Shop and driving will probably be all smiles giving thanks. It is so sad in a sense. It brings me back to what I have always said about life for that matter. A person should show love, caring, giving, thankfulness, gratitude and common courtesy every day…not just on some designated national or calendar holiday, anniversary or birthday. Makes me wonder where this world is headed and how others have forgotten the basics of kindness, thoughtfulness, and human compassion. Now back in the safety and warmth of my home…I think back to Monday and Tuesday and distributing food, and the man at the exit ramp and how grateful and thankful those who have so little or close to nothing were. This grounds me in this world of impatience, with people lacking the core elements of respect, common courtesy, understanding and human compassion. I believe there is hope and inspiration. It is all around us. We just have be present, realize that the world does not revolve around us and really take notice of random acts of kindness and what is around us every fleeting moment.

Getting back to friends and especially family now. Yesterday I spent my waking hours thinking of those that were taken from us too early and who watch us from above every single day. From my dad (who would wake up early to work with my mom to get the turkey in the oven); to my very younger years of my grandmother standing at our table saying the prayer with many aunts and uncles in attendance. I think about aunts, uncles, friends and their families. I thought about a friend who lost both her dad and her older brother (many years apart from each other) the week of Thanksgiving so many years ago. I thought about so many others in heaven who shared this holiday previously with either my family or within the families of friends and loved ones. I am thankful for each and every encounter with them and how they touched my life or left a lasting memory regardless of how brief. And I also thought about those who I would love to spend the holiday with.

This year unlike other years, I had an abundance of invitations to share and celebrate this holiday. But unlike other years, I was a bit overwhelmed. After working for ten straight days in some capacity, I was emotionally, mentally and physically shot and tired. In so many ways I feel so blessed and thankful and loved to have so many invitations to celebrate the holiday. From my own family – my mom, my brother Kevin and my nephew Patrick and T and her family along with Richard, Derek and Amanda; to Keith; the Lyons Clan; The Falzarano/Wrights; the Foran/Law game, and Dale and Ray Gillespie; to JFS staff who asked me to join in their celebration and even a gentleman I speak with every day from the convenience store. I am not a nomad and I had so many places to be. I wish I could put every single one of them in the same place at the same time. I was torn with choosing one over and after speaking to my Mom and a few others, I decided to not choose any of the options. I feel that instead of being partially present or in a mental or physical fog in the presence of a room full of others it was best for me to take care of myself. I am eternally thankful for each day I receive and I am grateful to be able to have had so many options to choose from but I did what was best for me and took care of myself to re-energize and recharge at a pace that is comfortable to me. I have been so under the weather the past few days, (if not the past week or so) that it was probably the wisest and most practical and responsible thing to do. And today I can say with all honesty it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I did cook yesterday, drew a bath, had tea with ginger, took a bunch of cat naps, worked on my holiday cards and just relaxed. Today when I woke up I did feel a void in not seeing my family and friends but I also realized the effects of a much needed day or so off.

I hope everyone had a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Hanukkah as it winds through its eight days. May the spirit of the holiday season surround your very being and soul!

With much love

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