December 1, 2013
Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Letter #306: Rolling in the Corn
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and even though the Christmas season is now upon us, I’m still caught up in a decidedly thankful mood.
I’m thankful for each of you who take the time out of your busy lives to read these “status updates” from me. I’m grateful for the privilege of still being in your life, no matter how far I’ve fallen, and no matter how far off-the-grid and out-of-touch I am with the rest of society.
Due to schedule limitations in our prison’s law library, I know that I won’t be able to type up this handwritten letter for you to read anytime soon. But, I know that when you eventually get it, you’ll be just as glad to hear from me as if I’d written it the day before—right? See how awesome you are?
Thank you for being a vital part of my family, sent by God—undeservedly—to bless me with your love and prayers and encouragement. Your support is truly unique, and because I realize just how blessed I am that you read these weekly letters, I thank God for you and count it a privilege to pray for you as well.
Every Thanksgiving, the prison serves a special meal for lunch and sends us off with a sack lunch peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. Even the Kosher meals get a bit of an upgrade, and everyone gets to enjoy pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, yams, potatoes, and turkey. Well, I had something that resembled turkey, since the Kosher meals here are basically vegetarian, which is great with me!
I have been keeping a tradition now for the past several years, every Thanksgiving, which is to invite an Indian to have dinner with me. While it is quite rare to find natives of India here, inmates who trace their heritage, no matter how obscure, back to natives of the Americas are in abundance. (Darn firewater makes you do things you shouldn’t, apparently.) In fact, since the prison system allows Native Americans additional privileges such as building teepees (without women) and campfires (without s’mores), the natives seem to come out of the woodwork. In a book I read once, they come out of a cupboard, but we don’t have those here.
This year, I chose my new best friend, David, as my Indian. His ancestors lived in Central America years ago, and he’s fairly certain they never arrived in the New World on a European boat. I was satisfied with that, so he joined me for our festive Thanksgiving feast, just like my mom used to make, except completely different.
At my family’s house, we take time to let the food get cold while we each say five things we’re grateful for as we awkwardly pick up five individual kernels of corn and set them back down in front of us. Tears, and usually lots of them, accompany this yearly highlight, no matter who happens to have joined us at the table that year. In prison, I’ve kept that tradition, without all the crying, of course. I usually get served some corn, so I make a point of thanking God for five things.
This year, however, I opened my styrofoam Kosher tray to find the main course of rice and beans—perfect for sharing with my native friend, who is actually Mexican—and TONS of corn! It made me smile, there was so much corn, and no way I could eat it all by myself.
Then God spoke to my heart: the corn was just a small representation of my many, many blessings which He has given me this year. There are not only too many for me to name off each one over Thanksgiving lunch, but I have more blessings than I can make use of all by myself. What a vivid (and tasty!) reminder that He provides all I need for myself AND all I need to be a blessing to those around me.
Thank you for being a special part of my Thanksgiving this year!