backpack buddies.

It was the last week of the month of November, and I was at the grocery store. I know it was the third week, because I know that the upcoming Sunday was the first Sunday of the month, which is Backpack Buddy Sunday. It's a program where the church collects food to give to kids at the local elementary school to take home over the weekend, because otherwise the kids may not eat. We live in a pretty nice part of town in the richest country there has ever been, and yet children go hungry.

Zuzu is in the cart. We have this cart cover thing that ties onto the cart so that she licks something with the same germs from our house, rather than the germs from whatever other kid was sitting there last. For the record, I did not buy this thing; it was in a big bag of hand-me-downs from a friend of a friend. In fact, when I pulled it out of the bag, I thought it was a papoose, and I tried to put it on. Then I felt like a failure of a mother because I couldn't figure out how it worked. Finally, I looked at the the tag, and it said "cart cover," and then I felt like an idiot, but not a failure. I say that I did not buy it because it's the sort of germaphobic thing I would have scoffed at. But now that we have it, I do like it, and I use it every time.

I've got my household list, and I've got the Backpack Buddies list. But I'm considering just putting away the second one, because I don't have a job. During the first week of the month of November, I was laid off. Josh picked up more shifts at the restaurant, and I stayed home with the baby and applied for jobs.

I'll tell you a secret: I've never not had the money to do what I wanted. My mother raised me to be frugal. If something is too expensive, I've learned to just not want it. And then there is money to splurge on things that are worth it. So we rarely eat out, but we went to France. All our clothes were bought secondhand, but when the HVAC broke, we just bought a new one, no sweat.

So in terms of the breadwinner losing the source of bread, we were fine. I had severance until the end of the year, and our savings account was healthy. But every expense felt crushing. Not because we couldn't afford it, but because I didn't know how long that would be true. Even though we hadn't been living extravagantly, there was room to trim the fat.

Like the Backpack Buddies.

And there was my well-fed baby in the cart, chewing on the cart cover that someone we didn't even know had freely given us. Her fat cheeks and thighs indicated that she had never missed a meal. It would take a long period of unemployment for that to happen, and we had relatives upon relatives who would never let it happen. Just that week, my in-laws had sent a grocery store gift card. We had less than we did the month before, but we still had so much.

I added some canned peas and beans and corn, some tuna and some soup to the cart, backpack food. My mother taught me to be frugal, but my father taught me to be generous. I find the former easier than the latter, but they often go hand in hand.

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