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November 9th, 2008
This Martian Life: A Day of Thanksgiving

One of my most vivid memories of childhood is a hot dog bun and mustard sandwich. That’s it, just one hot dog bun and a thin strand of mustard for flavor. That was dinner for that day. That’s all there was to eat.

My parents, who were both employed and worked as hard as they could to provide for the family still didn’t make enough for 5 of us. We scrimped. We saved. We were prudent and sensible. However, sometimes we had to make do with little to nothing because no matter how hard one works or saves this world has a nasty habit of taking more than it gives and a hot dog bun and mustard sandwich is literally the best you can do.

Now I’m older, maybe a little wiser, but in several ways I never got the taste of cheap mustard and a stale bun out of my mouth. The aftertaste of that “meal” has lasted for decades and I honestly hope it never goes away. It never lets me forget where I came from and it commands me to act. It keeps me honest.

As the holiday season approaches I ask myself how many families in our community won’t even have that much to eat. I ask how many dinner tables will be devoid of food at Thanksgiving. I ask how many stockings won’t even be hung at Christmas because there’s nothing to put in them anyway. I think about the anguished faces of all the moms and dads out there who have to look in their child’s eyes and find a way to explain that maybe…hopefully…next year it will be better, and the confusion the child might feel because “Santa” missed their house that year. I ask and I wonder and I worry.

Now, more than ever, times are tight. Maybe our own Thanksgivings will have to be less lavish. I do know for sure, however, that something is better than nothing, and nothing is what too many of us have too much of. This is why is it vital that all of us need to contribute $20 to the Hays County Food Bank over the next several weeks.

According to their website ( where you can give online,  a $20 donation will provide a needy family with 1 Turkey, 4 cans of corn, 4 cans of green beans, 2 cans of yams, a box of stuffing, a can of cranberry sauce, onions, potatoes, celery, a loaf of bread and a dessert. For $20 that is a right nice Thanksgiving. $20 is easy for most of us. For those struggling to make ends meet $20 is a lot of money.

We’re a peculiar people you know. On the one hand we all want to do something. I’m sure of that. However, the attitude of “that’s mine and you can’t have it because I worked for it” seeps in and silences the better angels of our nature. We place property over principle and commodity over compassion. Is the desire for a better life bad? Is the want of wealth and security immoral? Of course it isn’t. What you have is indeed yours.

Why not share though? Freedom to achieve and prosper means absolutely nothing without accepting the responsibility to lift others up as well. To whom much has been given, much is required, and not because the government says so, or because a mouthy newspaper editor said so. This responsibility, this commandment, comes from almighty God. You will find “do on to others…”, or something to that effect, in almost every sacred text. This responsibility comes from the simple fact that we really are all in this together and it is indeed a good thing to lend a hand when able.

So, no matter how much we think we need and deserve that $20, we have to realize that by giving that up we can lift others up. We can start, through small and simple things, to transform sorrow into joy. We can use this day of thanksgiving to give our less fortunate friends something to truly be thankful for. We can show our thanks and our gratitude for having been blessed with so much by passing it along.

Nobody is going to put a gun to your head and make you give. As I said before it’s your money and nobody can tell you what to do with it. Factually this is correct. Morally, on the other hand, it’s just wrong to sit back and watch people go hungry, or go sick, or to allow the shame and suffering of another empty table and another bare cupboard and do nothing when you actually can.

I’m not asking for the world to change or for people to start unconditionally loving each other. I am saying that all of us, right now, at this very moment when your eyes run across these words can (and should) make a pledge that a cold unfeeling world that lets people starve and die will not exist within the reach of our two arms.

I believe we can. I believe our arms are longer and stronger than we give ourselves credit for. So if you have $20, or even more if you’re inclined, give it to the Hays County Food Bank and give all of us something to be truly thankful for this year. Then, in the words of that old and beautiful hymn we can,

“…gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.”

Let us not forget our own either.

by Sean Wardwell

(Note: the opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of the author and are not the position of or its staff)

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0 thoughts on “This Martian Life: A Day of Thanksgiving

  1. Thanks for the inspirational article, and as you suggested, we donated to the Hays County Food Bank, too. You are right, act when the opportunity presents itself. Upon reading your heartfelt words, we can each convert that into action. Whether the donation is via mail or in person or online, now is a great time to add this kind of action to our portfolio of legacy deeds / charitable contributions. And, online at the Hays County Food Bank, it is very easy to donate right then, as the “Donate” link is in the middle of the top of the home page (which then presents you with the donation page, which has the “Make a Donation” link of the middle of that page). I bet just about everybody reading Newstreamz makes charitable donations and/or does community service / volunteer work, and donating even a relatively small amount can make a positive impact.

  2. Sean, well done! I really appreciate your taking the time to put down your thoughts and share your personal story. It’s that kind of heartfelt support that allows the food bank to operate day in and day out to help hungry people right here in our community. Thanks for being such a great friend to the food bank! Folks can give on Thanksgiving website at Pat Tessaro, Community Relations Coordinator, Hays County Area Food Bank

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