Post #611 Happy Feast of the Bird!

November 22, 2018 at 8:57 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #611 Happy Feast of the Bird!

In our new place, we’ve already had snow a couple of times, but only once was it significant.  Everything is chilly, gray, and more than a little damp.  Inside, there’s a fire (fake) going, music in the background, the aroma of roasting turkey, and the sense of anticipation for the feast.  It’s all comfortable and secure and happy.  Even the dog is snoring contentedly.

For some reason, I remembered an incident from yesteryears, when we still lived in a small town in upstate New York.  Oddly, that town is only about five hours from where we are now.  I was in second or third grade.  Friday, after lunch, was a special time.

In this school, on Friday the first forty-five minutes after lunch were designated free time.  You could do whatever you liked as long as it wasn’t disruptive to other students.  So if you and a friend wanted to play a game, or if you wanted to read, heck, even if you wanted to take a nap, it was all okay.

If you had extra money, before lunch you gave it to the teacher and she would get you an extra snack.  For a nickel, you could get pretzel sticks.  I don’t remember what the other snacks were because I always wanted those pretzel sticks.

It didn’t always work out.  Sometimes I forgot my nickel.  Sometimes, I didn’t have a nickel.  So, I’d sit at my desk and look longingly at the kids at the back of the classroom eating their extra snacks.  If you were lucky, one of them would invite you to share their snack, and you got to be part of the group enjoying a few minutes of privilege with their snack.

I nearly always had a nickel for my pretzels.  And if I forgot it, sometime the teacher would spot me for it since I was so regular with it.  So for me, eating pretzel sticks after lunch was a regular thing.  You may remember these things.  Small red and blue packages wrapped in plastic that contained a couple of dozen small crispy pretzel sticks.  Perfect for eating after lunch.

The kids who sat at the back of the room enjoying their snacks changed each week.  It was a fluid group, and we had a good time, although we did keep it quiet like we were supposed to.  Or as quiet any small group of kids in the second grade can.  There was one kid, though, who never ever had a snack.

He was a larger kids, larger than any of us others.  I don’t know his age, and didn’t think to terribly much about it.  He intimidated me.  I was a small kid.  Short, painfully thin, not much strength at all.  But I had a big grin and could make people laugh.  This guy couldn’t seem to do anything.  He was awkward and lumbering (remember, we were little kids and things were pretty cut and dried.)  He was ostracized, didn’t seem to have many friends.  I’d see him on the bus, usually by himself, and was thankful he wasn’t picking on me.

I was talking to my mom one day about him.  And she said, “It sounds like he could use a friend.”

I didn’t say anything and let the idea settle outside my brain.  A few weeks later, I was sitting at the back with my little box of pretzels, which I dearly loved, and noticed him at his desk, not doing anything, and staring at the rest of us with a look of wanting to be sitting with us.

Without thinking about it, I silently held out my pretzels to him and lifted my eyebrows to invite him join me in eating my snack.  His face lit up in surprise and delight, he nodded excitedly, and hurried back to me.  I held out the box.  I was already regretting it because now I wasn’t going to have as many pretzels as I usually did.

“How many can I have?” he asked before taking any.

I grinned. “All you want, just save me a couple.”

We both laughed, me the little kid, him the classroom giant and appetites to match.  He carefully split the pretzels between us and enjoyed the snack.

I made a friend that day, and he joined me for pretzels every Friday after that.  At least, every Friday that I remembered my nickel.  I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but he never had a nickel for pretzels.  After the end of that school year, we moved because of my dad’s job (he was a Marine so we moved a lot.)  I have no idea what happened to that kid; I don’t even remember what his name is.

It’s one of those incidents that has stuck with me throughout my life.  That big lumbering kid wanting those pretzels so much.  It didn’t occur to me until much later, decades later, that he was hungry.  I have no idea what his circumstances were, and I know that kids are always hungry.  All it cost me was some pretzels to help.

Kids today are hungry too.  Thousands of them don’t have anyone to give them pretzels; not even their parents.  We’re going to be feasting today, warm and comfortable and safe.  Let’s find a way to extend that feeling to those who are less fortunate.  When we’re shopping, let’s put food in the donation boxes.  Let’s buy those products that donate to No Kid Hungry.  Let’s load up the donation carts all year round.  Who’s with me?

As a followup, I was looking for the Mr. Salty pretzel snacks that I remembered, and I found the Mr. Salty pretzels, but it looks like the small, individual, snack boxes are a thing of the past.  So sad.  Unless it’s strictly a regional thing.  I still eat pretzels once in a while, but mostly ones that I’ve made myself.

Please feel free to share this, or any post you like.  As always,

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