My Gratitude Attitude...

My friend Heidi Willis did a blog post today about how spoiled that we as Americans are when it comes to medical care, specifically (in her case) the cost of diabetes supplies and medications. And because I completely agree with her, she got me all riled up, so now I have to post too!

I like the way she started hers, so I’m totally copying it.

I don’t rant often. (That’s her line…)

In fact, I rant never. (This is all me.) Mostly because I’m not a complainer. I’m a glass half-full kind of gal, so in the grand scheme of things I don't generally go looking for problems. But when something is shoved in my face, when I’m reminded (like I was this morning by reading Heidi’s post) about how ungrateful people can be...well, it hacks me off!

Here’s why I believe that we are spoiled as a society, why I believe that we should all be a little more grateful each and every day for what we have…rather than complaining about what we don’t:

I don’t talk about this often (or, really, almost never), but I grew up poor. Like, crazy poor.

Let me show you what I mean:

I lived in project housing. We had drug dealers in our neighborhood, as well as violent felons and child molesters. We had to wait for the 1st of every month for the welfare check to arrive, and when it did, my mom had to try to make it stretch so there was enough money to pay the rent and utilities, buy gas (when the car was running), maybe repair the car, and then buy everything that food stamps wouldn’t cover (soap, shampoo, toilet paper, school necessities, clothing, etc). Our welfare check was somewhere in the neighborhood of $300-plus. On a good month someone would come to our door and try to sell their food stamps for fifty-cents-on-the-dollar so that they could use the cash to buy cigarettes, booze, drugs, whatever. This was great for us, it meant that we would have enough food money for the month.

Do you get what I’m saying here? I’m trying to show you how poor looks.

But here’s how I see it:

We were American poor. We had a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and heat to keep us warm in the winter. We had money for food, free lunch at school, and when things got really tight, the food bank was there for backup. My mom kept us safe, making sure we avoided those people who could put us in danger.

And we had free medical care.

Yes, there were plenty of things that sucked about, and I hated always wanting more. But our basic needs were met. We weren’t starving or freezing, and we weren’t dying because we couldn’t get immunizations or medical treatment. There are children out there in the world who are.

I remind myself of this on a regular basis, when I WANT something and mistakenly call it a NEED. We are lucky, and we should definitely be grateful. I’m not saying we can’t complain, of course we can, it’s our nature, and there are always things to complain about. Trust me, I’m not saying everything is perfect. I’m just saying try to remember the difference between WANTS and NEEDS.

And if you’re reading this on a computer, be grateful that you have electricity…and probably running water, too.

*end rant*


Heidi Willis said…

What a touching post.
Beautifully put Kim! I try to remind myself of the difference between wants and needs all the time.

On a side note, my dad is always saying that the best thing that can ever happen to you is to grow up poor, so that you learn to appreciate what you have. And while part of that is probably because we were raised poor (not quite as poor as you, but getting there), I do think he's right. I'm sure your upbringing is a huge part of why you're such a sweet, caring person! :)
Tam said…
Couldn't possibly have been said better, Kim. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and perspective; Heidi's post got me all twisted up too.
Kristi Faith said…
Great post! I read Heidi's post too and definitely couldn't agree more. We are spoiled in this country! Sometimes I get upset at the cost of my water/electricity/rent. But it's good to remind ourselves that we have the option to obtain housing in the first place. I am thankful that my kids are a part of the free lunch program and we do what we can...always staying safe and comfortable. We may not have every toy in the world, but we have each other and we live in a free country. :)
Diane J. said…
I just read Heidi's post and am touched by both of your posts.

I'm happy to see that there are people who are still grateful and understand the difference between true needs and frivolous wants.
Shannon - I wouldn't change a thing about the way I was raised because of who I became. That said, I'm really glad my kids get to live a more sheltered existence. I'm a firm believer that there's no one "right way".

Kristi - Yes, thankfully there are great programs here that we can count on when we're down. And freedom definitely ranks right up there with things to be grateful for!

Diane - It's nice to be reminded every now and then, isn't it???
Steph said…
GREAT post, Kim. I really loved this one. All you said is very true.
Anatole said…
^-^ It's so nice to hear someone that's thankful for what they have (especially coming from such a difficult background). That's a rarity today.

*I just realized it, but you remind me a lot of Kandee Johnson -- and vice versa.*
Hey Steph - I'm so glad to see you around again!!! :)
lkmadigan said…
I love this post, Kim.



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