Monday, December 6, 2010

Pumpkins, Prosperity and Hope

I saw these almost hidden pumpkins as I drove by on the road and stopped to take a photo. They got to me in some way. Seeing them holding on to their dignity and beauty, left by someone after Halloween perhaps as a gesture toward feeding some wildlife.

When I picked up my son from school on Friday he had a pair of new track shoes (retail $139.00) given to him by his track coach. He sat out most of last season due to a foot injury and the coach told him they can't afford not to have him on the team this year. My son explained that the coach has some deal with the shoe company and gets about 10 pairs of new models a season. I asked who else got a pair and was surprised when he told me the name of one of his closest friends.

Said friend's dad has been out of work now two years and counting. Imagine a typical upper-middle class suburban family. Handsome son, two adorable daughters, mom with long blond hair, wearing stylish skinny jeans and boots. Lovely, large in-town home. When I expressed some surprise, my son told me that his friend has also been on reduced lunches since starting high school three years ago. We have been on reduced lunches since my husband's death so I know what the income guidelines are. My son's friend is struggling as are we.

Then over the weekend, I received an email from a female acquaintance. She was selling items to be able to afford groceries and necessary car repairs. No mention of gifts or Christmas. Just the need for food and repairing cars. Again, a nice middle-class suburban family with a little girl on the swim team. Smaller home than the one my son's friend lives in, but still located in the coveted downtown area of our quaint little city. I know this woman's husband has also had job issues but the last I knew he was working.

As I reflected on these two families over the weekend, I thought about how many people are dealing with tough times, trying to stay afloat or survive and ride out this economic crisis. I felt a little less ashamed at myself for being in this position also. I have had a very hard time accepting the loss of my home and financial position and been pretty down on myself because of it. But here are two intact families caught up in this horror and having to make the best of it.

At least these parents have one another to lean on. I haven't written much lately about the fatigue and drain of widowhood but that is a constant in my life. Dealing with all this, making all the decisions, going to bed alone, getting up alone, living without another adult in the home have been extremely wearing on my soul, energy and outlook. I need to give myself some credit for having done the best I've been able to under the trying circumstances without much support.

In honor of this pumpkin theme, I made a loaf of pumpkin bread this morning. I have gotten a lot of rave reviews on it. When I was at the food pantry last week, I spied the six pound can of pumpkin in the photo and coveted it. My sons are both pumkined out but to me that huge can represents peace of mind and plenty. Something I can really use more of. I want to display that can on my kitchen counter as a symbol of hope and prosperity, remembering those two brave pumpkins cast off by the side of the road. And I'll eventually use the contents - six pounds of pumpkins will sure make a bunch of pumpkin loaves.

Wonderful, Quick and Easy Pumpkin Bread

1 box pound cake mix
1 cup pumpkin pie filling (not plain pumpkin puree)
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
cinnamon and nutmeg (I usually add with a heavy hand)
I also added 1 cup of chopped nuts although the recipe didn't call for them

Combine and mix all ingredients. Pour in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 300 for 1 hour, 15 minutes.


  1. The bread sounds wonderful. So many people having hard times and still...the unemployment rate goes up. I try not to listen to the news programs anymore--it just depresses me further.

  2. Judy - I worry about the future for so many people my age, older and then my sons and other young people too. It seems as if every group has its share of worries and concerns - young people finding careers, middle-aged folks keeping them, older ones being able to have social security benefits in the future. Why aren't more people worrying about all of this? I just don't understand how so many seem to be ignoring the plight of our many struggling citizens.

  3. You do deserve a huge pat on the back for your survival skills, and some warm hugs for how difficult it is to do it alone. Meanwhile, the pumpkin bread sounds so good. Such a healthy ingredient, too.
    The economic impact has hit all levels of our society and so many are suffering. Our food banks have a demand on them, never seen before.
    The plus side is the strength of the human spirit being seen everyday. You are a great example!

  4. CCK - I very much appreciate the image of a pat on the back and warm hugs that you have sent. You are so right about our food banks being so hard hit. Personally, I think a big problem with our current economic situation is that people really don't know what to do!

    You inspired me to start adding photos to my blog. Whenever I dropped in on yours, you always had so many nice ones posted. I figured I'd give it a try.

    I wish you comfort and most of all hope in regard to the difficult situation going on in your life.