Written by David Anderson of Finding Your Soul
A man named Donald Patterson of Dayton, Ohio, tells an embarrassing story about the big cranberry scare. It happened some years ago, just at Thanksgiving time. Some pesticide had tainted a portion of the nation’s cranberry crop. This thing is, people never found out about it until they had already bought their cranberry sauce for the Big Dinner. So a lot of people had a lot of cranberry sauce they didn’t know what to do with.
That part of the story Mr. Patterson knew. The embarrassing part he found out years later—from a young woman who was just a little girl back in the year of the big cranberry scare. Back then she was a tot from a poor family who had been adopted by a church in town. The people from church would see to it that her family had a little something extra at holiday time. So at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, they’d collect clothes and food and present it to her family. And that year at Thanksgiving time, she remembers, they received the usual offering: a big turkey with all the fixings, and groceries to last them for weeks. And one more thing. They received cranberry sauce. Lots of it. Fifty-seven cans.
You wince when you hear a story like that. It’s the shudder of recognition. Yes, we are like that. Yes, I’ve given gifts like that. Gifts that didn’t cost me anything. Gifts that demean the recipient, and the giver too.
With the advent of Thanksgiving the “holidays” begin. These are days that epitomize grace, abundance and love—even if our hopes for the holidays never quite match their reality. We know we’re blessed, and we feel an impulse to give. The simple fact is, it’s nice to receive gifts, but deep joy and satisfaction come only when we give something costly—more than we really could “afford.”
If you want to enjoy the best holiday season ever, it’s easy. Just give the best you have to offer. Let’s give the holiday food we’d love to feast on, not just the stuff left over in our own pantries with expired date stamps. Let’s splurge. Be extravagant.
When we give what’s left over, what we can do without, it’s not a gift. A gift has to cost us something; there has to be a sacrifice. And when we do, something transforms the giver.
All the rest is bad cranberries.
As we enter this holiday season, think about calling your local food bank. Find out what they need most this time of year and what you can do to help. If you feel so inclined, share what you learned and what you donated with your readers, it might just inspire someone else to give generously too.