Our little world has been touched in the last month by serious illnesses suffered by people in our community. A mother in John’s preschool class. A woman from our church who has mentored me for the last year. And then the ordinary challenges of life that are joyful yet hard – like a pregnancy’s third trimester. As you may have noticed from my spending some blog currency on posting recipes, I love to cook. I grew up in a household of 10 and learned to cook by mass producing food. I almost can’t look at a recipe without doubling it. So it’s very natural to me to want to provide “food comforts” to friends who need it.
One of the magical things about WordPress is it tells you what posts people are looking at when they visit your blog. One of the top hits is a post I wrote back in January on “Grocery Shopping on $200 a Month.” Since we signed up for a CSA this summer, I’ve backed off from shopping once a month to shopping weekly again so I could be sure to use all of our CSA goodies. I also had an unusually high amount of freelance work this summer that have made our normally super-tight summertime finances less critical.
All of these things have somehow added up to my spending even more time in the kitchen and giving away more than usual (and repeatedly blowing our monthly grocery budget). Not that I didn’t do these things before now, but the frequency and arguably the need is greater at this moment. And something else too that probably reflects something about my personal character flaws: I’m finally not giving merely out of duty. When I was obsessed with budgeting and sticking strictly to our grocery allowance, it actually hurt a little to give even the least expensive meal away. I almost always only gave when prompted by social pressure or guilt or obligation. I was so caught up in my bottomline that I became a Scrooge. And I’m so ashamed to admit this when I think about how all the people who have been incredibly generous to us over the years.
Now I’m out here sitting on my mental stoop trying to figure out how I can be a good steward of our money while freely and unreservedly giving to others. Do you put a line in your budget for these things? Do you just practice giving until you have an attitude adjustment? I’m sending this question out into the Internets. Give me a sign.