A text-only version of this post appeared in my GoodReads blog on November 25, 2009. Since then, MCC San Jose has closed, and I’ve had my own gratitude practice for several years. As we enter the holiday season, it felt timely to share this information again.
This is the time of year when people start to count their blessings even as they count the minutes until the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the ubiquitous turkey dinner. Several of my blogging friends decided to post one thing per day for which they were thankful; my minister at the Metropolitan Community Church of San Jose begins his day with a list of five things for which he is grateful that day.
I admire them. These days, it’s not always easy to find things for which to be grateful. Money is tight in our household, as with so many. We cut back our holiday gift- giving list *and* our budget for it. Like so many households, I spend time looking at the information in our bills and do the triage game of “this payday/next payday.”
Yet, I also recognize that I am privileged. We have a home. We have income with which to pay the bills (even though we had some setbacks that require some recovery in that regard). We have health insurance. These are all things that a great many people lack. For this, I am profoundly sorry, because I believe that everyone has the right to a safe home and healthcare.
Yesterday, I took a day off from work and helped serve Thanksgiving dinner to clients at the Neil Christie Living Center. The clients are people living with HIV and AIDS. Each person had an amazing story to tell, and they were always stories of gratitude. An older gentleman told me how fortunate he felt that, when he and his partner lost their home due to catastrophic medical bills, they had an RV in which to live — even though they haven’t much money and his partner was not feeling well enough to come to dinner. Another gentleman told me how grateful he was to the Christie Center for helping him be “delivered from” crack cocaine after 10 years of addiction.
The Christie Center has lost significant funding over the course of the past few years, even as the need for their services increases. Yesterday, supervisor Marianne Gallagher announced that the center’s hours were being cut from three days per week to two, effective November 30. It disturbs me greatly that these kind people (we served dinner to more than 100) will lose part of their vital lifeline for food, medical care and counseling.
Yet, there was not a complaint to be heard — just expressions of gratitude for those of us who provided lunch and a smiling face, and for what the Christie Center will still be able to do for the community.
I would be dishonest if I pretended that yesterday was anything other than heart-wrenching. I am truly blessed compared to many of the people with whom I ate turkey and ham yesterday, but I learned a lesson in gratitude nevertheless. Reaching out to someone in need, giving them a smile and perhaps a hug, and hearing their stories is something to be grateful for as well.
May all of my readers have a blessed holiday season.