Originally published in Spanish in "El Planeta," My Mother's Miracles is written by Project Bread staff member Diego Calderon, who shares the story of his childhood experiences as his mom provided for their family during the holidays.
The fall and holiday seasons are no doubt favorites of many. Everything from apple picking and eating pumpkin flavored – well, anything, to the beauty of the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows that paint the tree lines. These are all reminders of a time in which many spend time with loved ones and embrace festive meals and other traditions. However, for far too many families in Massachusetts, these are also anxiety-provoking reminders of already strained budgets and the many extra hours of work needed to provide basic needs, such as food, housing and clothing, for their families. Reminders of the choice they need to make to follow beloved traditions: to feed their family for a month or splurge for a one-night feast.
As a many young children do, I lived my childhood blissfully ignorant of these concerns. Christmas was my favorite holiday back in Peru. Every year I wrote a letter to Santa with a long list of gifts. I knew that I was a good kid – and perhaps to my mother’s detriment – I would receive most of my gifts. As tradition in my family went, every year on Christmas Eve, we would have a bounty, full of my favorite foods. The menu would either be, rotisserie chicken, or a delicious pork roast, accompanied by stuffing, and what seemed to be a plethora of never-ending side dishes. Following our traditional midnight dinner, the kids would gather around the Christmas tree and open gifts. Our parents sat and watched, as our faces would light up with joy at every gift we opened. It was truly a magical night.
Shortly after I moved to the United States, I was introduced to Thanksgiving. My family embraced this wonderful celebration, one filled with turkey, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, corn bread and biscuits, mashed potatoes, apple, pumpkin, and pecan pie. This quickly became my new favorite holiday. It was a feast, another reason to spend time with family, and the kickoff of my countdown to Christmas.
However, as is the case with many children, memories can often be skewed. While I maintained my childhood innocence, the blissful experiences of opening gifts and sharing a bite of my favorite foods, it all came from the sacrifices my mother made. She spent many evenings with sore feet working long hours in multiple jobs. She spent many days skipping meals, and pretending to be on a diet, just so we wouldn’t question why she wasn’t eating. And she spent many sleepless nights, worrying about how she was going to choose whether to feed her children for a month or give them the blissful joys of these two holiday nights.
This holiday season, my skewed memories will be shared by far too many children in our Commonwealth as 1 in 5 households with children in Massachusetts are facing food insecurity. These memories of sitting at the table, tearing into a turkey leg, cutting into a pork roast, sharing the never-ending sides, and having the privilege of opening gifts on Christmas morning will be part of our youth for years to come. In contrast, the sacrifices that many parents and caretakers will make, just as my mother did to create these loving memories, will go unnoticed.
As an adult now working at Project Bread, an organization committed to solving hunger in Massachusetts, I hear stories daily of the sacrifices these caretakers make, but I also know that for their children, they are creating holiday miracles. I tell you, your donation to Project Bread will be the same miracle for a child, this holiday season that my mother gave to me — sharing a bountiful holiday meal with family, making life-long memories.
Your donation to Project Bread gets food relief to food insecure family in Massachusetts, so that they can focus on making their own festive memories, sharing a holiday meal.