This holiday season was overflowing with hugs, kisses, stories at bedtime, balanced meals, laughter, acts of kindness, daily baths, tooth-brushing twice a day, plenty of sleep, warm blankets, extra adults, surrogate-siblings, soft pillows, christmas carols, prayers, consistent boundaries and unconditional love. Such a diet is far richer than in any of Matvei’s years prior. Any dietician will tell you that more in-than-out adds the pounds. No calories were shed to cope with stress, fear, uncertainty or disappointment. The fridge was always full, the food was always (or mostly) wholesome, the mouth was no longer full of pain and the schedule was consistent….
The result….8 pounds.
For this six-year-old boy to have gained 8 pounds in a little more than a month, grace had to have been flowing like a river. We can see the extra pockets of flesh filling out in his cheeks. His PJ pants creep up past his ankle bones which are a little less jagged. His coat barely meets his wrists. Holding his hand feels different. When he jumps into your lap, he lands a little heavier. It is the most amazing feeling in the world.
I see my screen filled with ads, promises, advice, shame, programs all geared toward getting the number on the scale to be smaller. The irony of being surrounded an industry fueled by this seemingly virtuous pursuit as well as all of the money piling into already pretty-full pockets is too much to not notice. Our sweet six-year-old is not the only child who has felt dire hunger…not only a hunger for nutrition but a hunger for a home and a family and access and enough of everything that you need to flourish. To see how easy it is to fill his tummy, his heart, his mind and his sense of security stops me short. If we can do this for him…how many could do this for others?
Our situation is not typical, I get that. I just know that all of us can do a little bit better. We can spend a little less time focussed on our waistlines and channel our excess in a direction that will really feed someone. Maybe that means that you keep your closet a little less full by buying those new jeans for someone else, or you stop in and visit that lady on your block who never really gets out of her house. What if you skip Starbucks for a while and fill a bag for the foodshelf instead? Free your schedule by taking a break from binge-watching and offer to tutor at your local library a couple of hours per week. Take your workout buddies to serve meals at a shelter one evening instead of spinning or lifting or yoga-ing or whatever you typically do. Hug someone who needs a hug. Smile at a stranger.
If we all add some love-weight to the emptiness that keeps so many hungry, we could really tip the scale (yep…using that imagery to the death). We got 8 pounds into this kid and we are not any different from any of you.
All of it really started with smiling at a stranger….anyone can do that….