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A bit absent

Spices
Howdy, folks. I alluded to this, but wanted to make a proper accouncement. The SNAP challenge is on hiatus for December. Not because I am suddenly reverting to old habits (I'm not; I roasted a chicken and made a ham and bean stew this week, and made my grocery shopping list from the sale fliers), but because of the holiday season. The holidays after my dad died, and then while my mom was sick and then she died turned my favorite season into one filled with depression and anxiety.

This year, I want to reclaim some of the joy I used to find in this season. Part of that involves a truly collosal number of parties, social events, and out-of-town guests I have on my agenda, all of which will include refreshments I do not partake of when "on challenge."

I recognize that people on food stamps don't have the chance to "take a break" over the holidays, and that if I were really up to the challenge, I would figure out a way to enjoy the holidays on a food stamp budget. As it is, I am pretty sure I won't spend more than $200 of my own money, but the tracking and reporting will be tougher this month. I can't exactly go up to my coworkers and find out how much their dish they contributed to the potluck cost, or ask the waitstaff at our holiday party how much the chicken satay sticks and apple martinis work out to per serving.

On the other hand, I am purposefully rejecting the consumerism of the holiday season in other ways. I've scaled back my gift-giving, opting for one well thought-out gift over a few less meaningful ones for my goddaughters and niece. I'm writing longer and more personalized messages in my cards, and reaching out to friends and family with whom I have let relationships slide. I'm making a lot more homemade treats to give out, and am volunteering to deliver meals to terminally ill patients.

January 1-January 31 I will do the challenge again, properly, and put some of what I have learned into better practice.

In the meantime, a link to my appearance on Morning Edition, recorded before I finished the challenge. Also, in a few days' time, I'll link to an NYTimes.com forum that will explore some of the issues raised in last week's New York Times article about food stamp usage in the current economy.

Finally, here is an interactive map that accompanies the New York Times article, showing food stamp usage by different population segments across the United States. I know I try to avoid getting too political, but I find myself fascinated by the districts where usage is highest. They are in many cases districts that bang the "no government handout" and "socialism is the devil" drums.

I'll check in from time to time in December. In the meantime, have a joyous season, filled with more love and friendship than batteries and wrapping paper.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
wood_land_realm
Dec. 3rd, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
I think that's an entirely sensible approach.

Even if you never did it again, you've raised awareness in many places of the issues people with food stamps face, and that's very important.

Enjoy your holiday season. My Dad also died at Christmas so I understand how you feel - it's not an easy thing to come to terms with.

romi
Dec. 4th, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you for all the thoughts you raised during your SNAP challenge! Enjoy the holidays. Welcome back.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )