On this Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful for All the Handouts I’ve Received
There are times when I just want to scream out loud. But that doesn’t necessarily solve any problems, so sometimes I choose to scream through writing.
Now is one of those times.
While I can’t emphasize enough that I believe in the First Amendment, that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that everyone should be allowed to express them, there are times when those opinions just seem so off base.
Take, for example, the number of people who complain about others who take “handouts” and/or boast that they have never done so themselves. They often say this as though they are morally superior.
Personally, I’ve received more handouts than I ever deserved. And this Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for them.
The handouts I’ve received may not have been in the form of government assistance for low-income individuals, but they are the reason I haven’t had to depend on such help when I’ve hit a rough patch.
I am grateful that I received the handout of a mother who didn’t abuse alcohol or drugs and had a healthy diet while she was pregnant. Her decisions provided me with a giant advantage in life. I was born healthy and had parents who ensured I maintained my health. Too many people start life without that handout and spend the rest of their life trying to catch up.
I am grateful for the handout of parents who were concerned about my education from the day I was born. They shared their love of the written word by reading out loud to me. They didn’t set me in front of a television so they could go on with the lives they wanted. They provided me with books, crayons and the opportunity to express myself. Too many people spent the first three years of their lives without any of those handouts – handouts that greatly influence their ability to learn and process information.
I am grateful for the handout of being a child that never knew what it was like to be truly scared or cold or hungry. There was always food on the table, in the cupboard, in the refrigerator and in the freezer. I never went to bed afraid that there wouldn’t be heat in the morning or that I wouldn’t have a coat to wear in cold weather. Too many people grow up without the simple handout of having those basic needs met – which creates a completely different perspective of how the world works.
I am grateful for the handout of parents who made their children and their family a priority. I always felt wanted. I always felt like I belonged and I always felt like I helped make my family complete. I was never told I was a mistake. I was never told I was a burden. And I was never told that my parents’ life would be easier if I wasn’t around. Just as importantly, I wasn’t hit, kicked burned or assaulted in my own home. Too many people grow up abused and wondering why they even exist. The handout of love is powerful, and without it, people often seek affection and attention in the wrong places and in the wrong ways.
I am grateful for the handout of having parents who wanted me to succeed and who demonstrated self-discipline and good decision-making skills. They required my brother and me to take responsibility for our actions. They also ensured that we were exposed to a wide variety of opportunities and activities. They were never in jail, they never dragged us into unsafe locations and they didn’t bring a variety of unsavory characters into our home. Too many people grow up without the handout of positive role models. Their parents or caretakers or community members are stumbling through life attempting to meet their own needs without even considering those of their children. Our ability to make choices and understand consequences is a skill… and like all skills it needs to be demonstrated and practiced.
I am grateful for the handouts I received that were beyond human control. I’m not dyslexic, I’m not disabled and I’m not disadvantaged. I am surrounded by people who can lend a helping hand. When I faced a real emergency, there were always people in my life who had the resources to help me. Too many people are surrounded by people who are facing their own crises and don’t have the ability to help anyone else.
I am truly saddened by people who view poverty as a simple issue. It isn’t.
And I am bothered that some people think life is an even playing field and everyone has equal opportunities. We don’t.
And I worry about the belief that low-income people have flawed characters rather than an unbelievable set of obstacles to overcome.
I agree that there are success stories.There are people who have beaten the odds, overcome horrible situations and gone on to live very productive lives. I am privileged to know such people.
And I also know that somewhere along their life path, they got some handouts – generally in the form of a caring person or persons who wanted to share all they had been given: whether material or spiritual. People who wanted to pay it forward rather than to hold it tight. People who understood the value of offering their hearts and their hands out to others.
On this Thanksgiving, I am not only grateful for the all of the hands that have been held out to me, I am grateful for the role models and heroes who continue to do this for others on a daily basis.
Holding your hands out can be a miracle for others.
Opening your heart to others can be a miracle for you.
I hope everyone has the opportunity to do both this Thanksgiving and into the upcoming holiday season.