I come from a long line of frugal people.
Growing up, the grocery story circulars would come around mid-week, and we’d begin making a list by store chain of items listed for sale. We often re-purposed an old envelope, so that we could have our coupons inside. After listing out the the weekly sales items that were good buys, we’d sift through the container of coupons that we always cut out on Sunday afternoons from the newspaper inserts. I’d look at the list and dig for coupons; my Mom would double check the expiration dates and mark a little “cp” next to each item that also had coupon savings. Those were first priority for purchase in our budget, and largely influenced what would be served at our dinner table during the upcoming week.
Frugality takes time, and I shamefully admit that with the pace of my life it’s been a long time since I dutifully clipped coupons when making my own weekly grocery list. I do, however, always keep a lookout for sales and always present my “bonus card” for savings. Like a well-programmed saver, nothing tastes better to me than a good deal. And, I always try to pick up extra sale items to help keep the Food Pantry shelves filled.
If you’ve been following the Turkey of Thanks campaign, then you know that my current energy is focused on trying to provide Thanksgiving for the 300+ people each month who visit our food pantry to help provide for their families. Generosity has been pouring out, and notes of thanks written on paper turkeys with each contribution have helped me stop and take note of all that we have to be thankful for this time of year. This week, the generosity of donations implanted a persistent thought in my soul: we would have enough. We would have enough not only for turkeys, but also to be able to offer a bag of “turkey fixings” along with a turkey for each household. It’s probably important to the story to note that when I began this process, I didn’t actually know the turkey price per pound, nor did I have any factual knowledge of whether we would have enough. But, deep in my soul, I knew. As I have learned, Abundance was speaking.
The muscle memory of my family frugality kicked in on Friday morning. As I sipped my morning coffee before work, I immediately took to the stack of grocery store ads that had been accumulating in my kitchen. I price shopped the major chains and the wholesale clubs, writing down prices for corn, beans, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce. The best price, by far, was with one of the stores where I regularly shopped. I didn’t know if their advertised deals would hold to such large quantities, though. But, with good intention, as soon as I arrived in my office I called the store manager and proposed my large-scale shopping arrangement using my bonus card savings plus the published prices. I added one request: with free brown paper bags thrown in. Those, I have learned, are a commodity. He sighed, and thought about it. I told him about our turkeys, our community donations, and our desire to live in abundance this Thanksgiving, side by side with our community. He put me on hold while he checked his stock. When he returned to the line, he told me that if I showed up the following morning, he would have what I needed packed up for me, and make good on the published sale, mega-sale and personal shopper-card prices for my high volume purchases. I decided to take the risk, and I placed my order for 1, 100 items of non-perishable food.
A couple hours after that call, our price-per-pound for turkeys was confirmed at an amazing $.58…a full $.19 per pound cheaper than we’d been told on our estimate. The savings, combined with the generosity of donors, gave us enough to provide not just Thanksgiving turkey…but Thanksgiving dinner.
This morning, my spouse and I went to the store at the appointed hour in hopes of making good on this deal. Jimmy, the morning manager-on-duty, had been relayed the information by his boss. He had everything all stacked up on a big, metal platform cart that he wheeled to the front of the store. He rang the items up…$2,079 at retail…and I have to admit that I wondered at that moment if this would really go through as anticipated. My doubts began to kick in. Then, I wondered if the pick-up truck and SUV we’d driven would hold it all, and my mind started running scenarios about how else we could pay for it.
At that moment, I felt the real Presence of a voice in my soul: “there will be enough.”
Abundance had spoken. There will be enough. Enough money. Enough food. Enough space. Enough help. Enough grace and gratitude to transform us, beyond our imagination.
Then big, burly Saturday-morning manager Jimmy said, “Go ahead…swipe your card…I can’t wait to see this.” Eventually, Jimmy would call everyone around as the register individually recorded and reflected first the published savings…then, the mega-savings…then the quantity saving on our $2,027 of name brand food purchases. We stood for a full six minutes while the register kept registering the savings. The total dropped to $2,000…down to $1,500…then $1,200…then $1,000. Jimmy laughed, “Oh man, we still have half the items to go! This is amazing!” Down the price continued to climb until it rested at $864. Which, of course, meant we had enough.
With the help of Jimmy and two other stock workers, we found enough room in our vehicles. Of course, we found enough room in the storage room in the food pantry, too. I cannot wait to see what other blessings are in store for us this week as Divine Abundance takes on tangible form in this blessed dance of giving and receiving that is taking shape. Whatever happens, I have one realization that has taken up residence in my soul: there will be enough.
Maybe this is how people felt in the midst of that ancient story, the biblical tale we recall to our children of the feeding of the 5,000. No magic wands, no tricks or smoke and mirrors. People are gathered. People give. People are fed. In the midst of all there is the Presence of Abundance, reminding each person tangibly and/or existentially (each according to her or his own need) that there will be enough.
I took a picture of my receipt. Mega-savings, indeed.
Abundance. Abundance. Abundance.
Today’s small point of light.