I don’t remember the source of this story. All I remember is my mom reading it to me when I was a kid. Magazine subscriptions came and went, but my parents were devotees of Readers Digest. So it might have been from that periodical back in the day. I had researched Readers Digest for a writing class and I believe it is the most widely circulated magazine, translated into the most languages including large print and braille, and distributed globally.
This is the paraphrased story. In a poor town lived a minister with his wife and their brood of young children. They were poor themselves. Throughout the year, the minister and his wife saved as much as they could with the hopes of providing their kids with a full turkey meal on Thanksgiving. After months and months of saving, the minister’s wife purchased a turkey the day before Thanksgiving. That night, one of the minister’s parishioners came by and asked to borrow some money so that he could get some food for his family to eat on Thanksgiving day. He promised to pay the minister back promptly.
Instead, the minister summoned his wife and said, “We need to give up some of our turkey. That family is starving and they won’t have a proper Thanksgiving if we don’t help.”
She refused. “No, we have been starving ourselves so that our children could eat well on Thanksgiving. Absolutely not.”
The minister went into the kitchen and took out the turkey. “Annie, you will slice this turkey so that family can eat. Here. Do it now.” The minister handed his wife a knife and urged her on. She grazed the turkey every so slightly, cutting off a thin slice.
“Annie! Half of the turkey. You will slice half of that turkey right now for that poor family.”
“We are poor ourselves. We work so hard and my poor babies can’t even have a full turkey on Thanksgiving day.”
“Annie! Now!!” He roared. She cut the bird in half, then ran away sobbing into the bedroom.
On Thanksgiving morning, the minister woke up to a large thud at the door. He opened the door to discover a fully carved turkey and all the trimmings–more than enough for his family to eat well for the next week.
That story really resonated with my mom. So much so that she called me over to read it to me. My parents have always been giving. Even though we never had a lot of money, my parents consistently gave to the church, to the poor, to non-profits that matter to them. They volunteer their time.
Without their prodding, I vowed to give as soon as I landed my first full-time job because I learned from example. And back then, I barely made enough money for living expenses and my student loan. So I volunteered more back then. I volunteer less now because I’m focused on my career, but I also donate more money.
The season finale of Entourage with Matt Damon urging Vince to write a generous check to his non-profit made me think of this post. It’s also my grad school’s five year reunion and our campaign goal is simply 15% participation. Our participation goal is less than other classes and less than the 20% participation goal of the most recent graduating class during a recession. It’s rather embarrassing.
It’s interesting, but I truly believe that people who donate and give of their time have better success in life. I hear a lot of rumbling from people who don’t give because they don’t make enough money, they don’t believe in a certain cause, whatever excuse they want to give. Those people who complain seem to be the ones with less luck in life. At least that’s my impression. It’s the karma effect.