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Read the thoughts and impressions on a variety of topics written by Christopher F. Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Community Foundation as well as occasional guest bloggers.

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Pass the Gravy
By Denise K. Spencer / November 30, 2015

Celebrations during the holiday season are always accompanied by food—amazing food, and plenty of it. The four food groups are generally represented at the table (either “sugar, salt, grease and alcohol” or “bacon, biscuits, grits and gravy,” depending on where you are from). I can hear in my head the laughter in the kitchen, the pots bubbling, the timer buzzing, and kids squealing, with the music or the game in the background.

In my household, and the households of my youth, there was always more than enough at holiday time. That did not mean my family was one of means; it meant we set some aside to have extra for the important celebrations. We made extra cookies and fudge and packaged them on paper plates with colorful plastic wrap and ribbons. Neighbors and delivery folks and “widow ladies” would light up when they received theirs. Our meals were prepared with the thought that someone uninvited might stop in, and we never wanted them to go away hungry. In fact, my father often found someone alone—a military escort, someone recently bereaved, a traveling salesman—and he or she was invited to dinner.

We always had plenty, even if it was spread a little thin. Maybe there were not a large number of oysters in the stew we had on New Year’s Eve, but there were enough for it to be flavorful. There was a larger turkey than needed for one meal for the family, and no one would leave the table hungry. We could count on sandwiches and soup in the days ahead.

And gravy—there was always gravy. That extra bowl of goodness was created from nothing—drippings from the meat, plus water, flour, salt. And yet somehow gravy makes everything special—makes everything taste amazing—from poor cuts of meat to the dressing Aunt Helen overcooked.

Yes, the lessons of the holiday meal never left me.

  • Stock your pantry so the holidays (also times of worship in my family) are special and holy and filled with gratitude. (SAVING and THANKFULNESS.)
  • Make sure that there is extra for those not as fortunate. (TAKE CARE OF OTHERS.)
  • Gifts don’t need to be purchased or wrapped. (Simply SHARING of yourself can be an amazing gift.)
  • Offering someone a little gravy to make life taste better can make all the difference. (A smile, a helping hand, a card, or a plate of cookies can CHASE THE BLUES AWAY and HELP PEOPLE GET THROUGH A DIFFICULT TIME, and yet the cost is small.)

The lessons may seem small, but their impact can be mighty. And when considering how to feed our larger human family this holiday season, the options are many.

Volunteering at this time of year is a low cost gift that can assist many. And if you are looking for a place to do that, you will find many opportunities on Lowcountry Volunteer Connections, a portal through the Community Foundation’s website.

Making a charitable gift to an area nonprofit can also help many. If you look at The Giving Marketplace, another portal through the Community Foundation’s website, you can learn about a number of quality nonprofits working hard to improve the quality of life for all. And you might also consider a gift to one of the over 300 funds at the Community Foundation itself, including Project SAFE (providing money for sewer hook-ups to low-income citizens of Hilton Head Island) and Touch Tomorrow for the Lowcountry (providing money for grantmaking to support nonprofits in our four-county service area).  

The “Lessons of the Holiday Meal” can cause you to look for ways to live generously-- by volunteering, by making a charitable gift to an area nonprofit, by offering a smile, or by finding another way to “pass the gravy” and make a difference. When you do, your own holiday season will taste amazing as well.

Denise K. Spencer
President and CEO

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Community Foundation of the Lowcountry

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P.O. Box 23019
Hilton Head Island,
South Carolina 29925

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