on scofflaws, stuffing, and the age old question of what’s for dinner

Feeding South Dakota will benefit from a food drive hosted by Siouxland Libraries. This means that all you scofflaws with late fees can, during the month of November, donate nonperishable food to any library branch and have your fine knocked down by 50 cents per item.

You will note, from the above photo, that yours truly was harboring a sizable fine for which I sought forgiveness. The librarians accepted my tribute with grace. My grandmother, on the other hand, would never have forgiven me for purchasing stuffing-in-a-box. Forgiveness is funny like that.

I regret to confess that I still had to break out a five dollar bill to eliminate the remainder of my fine

Yep. I’m that responsible. Sigh. 

On a related note, I never know “what’s for dinner?” even though, somehow, this seems to be a question those who live in my house think I should magically answer at least once a day. I do, however, consistently know that there will be food. Real food. Fresh food. As-nutritious-as-we-decide-to-make-it-food. We often have leftovers for lunch the following day, though we occasionally forget to eat them. 

I am grateful for that kind of abundance this Thanksgiving season, as always. Years ago my daughter embarked on one of those food scarcity challenges and ate nothing but one cup of cooked rice throughout a 24-hour period. She was eight. I watched her get hungrier and hungrier, refusing to nourish herself out of solidarity and, perhaps, stubbornness. Dark circles painted themselves under her eyes. She gazed at food longingly but did not reach out or ask for anything beyond her meager portion. By the end of the challenge, she didn’t have the energy to play and I was a complete wreck, furious at the folks who set the challenge in front of her in the first place.

Another time she contracted a mysterious illness that made it hard to swallow for weeks. She lost four pounds. I could see her ribs through her pajama top, and I will never, ever forget the feeling in the pit of my stomach as I considered her shrinking form as she slept. Never. Ever.

Both these conditions were temporary for us. But for some parents, providing food is a daily struggle.

Maybe you could bring some food to the library, even if you don’t have any fines. Even if you are über-responsible and would never dream of turning in a library book beyond its deadline. Über-responsible people with no late fees tend to have a few extra cans of food or unopened boxes of cereal hanging out in their cupboards. They are just über-awesome in that way. You know who you are. 

Go ahead. Bag up some groceries and head off to the library. Nourish your desire to read while you nourish a family in need.