Day #11 Poverty is Still Poverty
Well, this one hits close to home. At least it used to when I was younger. I know there are a lot of you that cannot understand how poverty can be a positive over the holiday season. While poverty is not a positive thing at all, there are some things that can be taken away from this situation.
There are many people who have never had to experience what it is like to go to bed hungry, not have clothes to wear and not understand the toll mentally and emotionally it can take on those who find themselves in this situation. While I was lucky enough not to ever go hungry, at least not because we did not have food, because my grandparents had a huge farm and a garden that produced enough to give to us as well provide for them. However, there were many other aspects of poverty that I was able to experience and would never want anyone else to go through. Some were because of my families current situation and others because my family decided that is how they wanted me treated, either way it was a difficult situation. What I was able to get out of it was a determination to be different.
I have seen this in a number of situations. It seems like when people lose everything and all their money and possessions are gone they do one of two things. They either give up and become destitute and plan on living off the government and what others will provide for them. They lose the will to fight, the will to try because it all seems so hopeless. The other way they could go is to become hardened and more determined. These people look at their situation as a beginning point not an end point. Once you hit rock bottom there really isn’t anywhere else to go. You either stay there or you get yourself up and begin working your way out. The holiday season brings this out more than any other time of year.
I would never wish poverty on anyone. The toll it takes on you physically, mentally, and emotionally is not something anyone wants to experience. You feel as though your very being has been stripped away. You have to forget all the pride you may have and let people help you work your way out. Don’t confuse that with letting people do the work for you, you are the only one that can change your situation. People who initially help you will only do so for so long. So either work at changing it, or see those who are helping you slowly turn their backs on you.
Poverty can teach you how to experience the holidays in a completely new way. When in that situation you would need to take all the materialistic parts out of the holidays. It is no longer about what toys or gifts, but about experiences. The families who really work at it can make the holidays special for those they love without giving anything but themselves. Most people don’t remember many presents they get on Christmas but they do remember the experiences. I know it is over used, but most kids would rather have more of your time than more gifts around the holidays. While poverty may not be a great place to be, you can use it to your advantage by spending time with those you love.
Showing those you love how much you care about them should be the best gift you can give. It will seem weird because we are so conditioned to judge the value of holidays in the amount of gifts we send or receive. If you really need to feel like you are giving something of value then estimate what your hourly value is worth. How much do you or would you get paid to do your job? Then calculate the amount of time you are spending with them and you should see the value right there. If you do have a job then you could add in the amount of money you could be earning that you are giving up to be with them. You would be surprised how quickly it adds up. I can’t remember if it was my wife or I heard it on the radio but there was a little boy who asked where his father was on morning. The mom replied that he had to work. When asked why he worked the mom said that his boss pays him money for every hour he is at his job. The little boy then went and got his piggy bank and asked his mom how much time of his fathers could he buy with his money. I am sure I messed up the story some, but you should be able to get the picture.
Poverty can also serve as a reminder to those who are not in that situation to help those in need. They are not required to but it can be a pay it forward type situation. I cannot remember if I told this story before or not but one year when I was very young my mother was in charge of providing for those in our church who needed help. These people would give her a list of essentials and then she would go get them and give them to the families. I was helping her carry all the stuff as she shopped and must have been complaining because eventually she stopped me and told me that it is not our place to judge or to question what or why these people need. There may be a time when we are in the same situation and I should think about how I would want to be treated. I don’t know if she knew it was coming, but we were in that situation all too quickly. If you have something to give, give it. You don’t need to judge how or why those people are in that situation, instead help them as you would want to be helped. I know I still follow this guideline. When I help people I prefer not to get any recognition and if the people I help never know it was me then all the better. I know that is how I would want to be treated. So this holiday season treat people as you would want to be treated because you never know when you may want the same in return.