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More Stories - The Way We Were
When my father was pastor of a church in a small farming town, Wyoming, New York, as I was growing up, we had a Harvest Sunday close to Thanksgiving, when the congregation was asked to bring in a tithe in the form of produce from their farms and orchards. This transformed the alter area into a virtual horn of plenty, with baskets of fruits and winter veggies; potatoes, turnips, kohlrabi, chard, rhubarb, cabbage, carrots, apples, pears, quince, glistening jars of pickles and jams, and I always thought my dad had trouble concentrating on the rest of the service with all those glorious edibles tempting him.
In some places, this is given to the pastor who is often underpaid. We had a generous garden, and most all of it went to the less fortunate in the town. In return we were sometimes given doubtful gifts by the recipients. Once a scruffy, rheumy-eyed old bachelor brought us a block of head cheese (if you don't know, you probably don't want to ask) which Aunt Amelia thanked him for profusely, and promptly tossed out.
In the urban environment which most of us live now, Harvest Sunday takes another form. Food Banks, Food Pantries and Missions as well as churches gather food for the needy or those that have met with tragedy. Even the Post Office dedicates one day a year to gathering food for the disadvantaged. I believe it's important for us all, if we are able, to thank earth's bounty by taking part in one or more of these efforts.
We can also ask grocers and wholesalers if they donate slightly outdated food to food banks, and if not, put them in touch with each other or even volunteer to deliver items. The amount of food thrown out in the USA is stupendous and shameful.
We stock up on non-perishables every May and June here in Miami, in anticipation of hurricane season. When the Post Office announces its drive, I check the dates on all the cans and donate all that are 10 to 12 months old. This makes sure that our supplies are fresh, and return thanks for our meals at the same time.
If you have kids, be sure they take part in gathering and distribution as much as they are able; community service is a very important lesson in growing up.