is a national campaign that is currently being sponsored by a big
steakhouse chain. For a measly $15, a person can get a four-course
meal consisting of soup, salad, entrée, and dessert. I used
to spend $15 on a meal without batting an eye, but nearly four years
of unemployment tends to make a person a little bit more
conservative. These days, I only spend that much if I can get some
extra bang for my buck.
particular offer, however, offers a lot of bang. Last week Fluffy
went out and got us two $15 meals from the takeout menu. We had
soup, salad, and carrot cake for dinner on the first night. It was
all we needed. The salads were huge, and the clam chowder made at
the Outback is stellar. We probably could have done without the
dessert, but it was there and we ate it.
next night our dinner consisted of my chicken chest and baked potato
and Fluffy’s shrimp brochette over rice. After that we had
three additional meals. Fluffy’s baked potato was one of them,
and the other two were lunches Fluffy made by melting cheese over the
two little loaves of bread that came in the sack.
in all, those two four-course dinners provided four dinners and three
lunches for our household. We decided the money was well spent.
the offer was first launched, Fluffy and I took a lady we home teach
to the restaurant, and the three of us dined together. Once again,
Fluffy and I ate our salad and clam chowder and had everything else
boxed up to take home. We were in the minority. The restaurant was
crowded because of the special offer, and we saw few people carrying
take-out bags as they left. Most of the people who took advantage of
the special packed in the whole four courses, taking home with them
only what they carried inside their persons.
and I watched this and marveled. “Why are we
the fat ones?” we asked.
asked why he was planning to climb Mount Everest, George Herbert
Leigh Mallory is purported to have said, “Because it is there.”
He and his climbing companion vanished on the Northeast Ridge back
in 1924, and their bodies were not discovered for another 75 years.
The body of George Leigh Mallory, photographed Saturday, May 1, 1999 at 27,000' by members of The Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition, illustrates the folly of doing something just because you can.
though Mallory’s example should have shown us the folly of
doing something just because we can, I think many of us in this land
of plenty take his approach to life. If we fall in lust with a car,
we buy it despite our inability to afford it, just because financing
makes it possible for us to do so. We may purchase more jewelry than
any human being can possibly wear. Why? Because it’s there on
eBay or on the home shopping channels to purchase without our even
have to visit a store.
we order a four-course meal and eat the whole thing just because it’s
a good bargain, never considering that nobody but a sumo wrestler or
a crab fisherman needs to consume that amount of food in a single
who has the technology to read this is obscenely wealthy compared to
people in many parts of the world. Do we recognize how fortunate we
are, or do we long for more? It’s so easy to fall into the
“poor me” trap when we can’t afford a new coat for
the winter, even though the one we have is perfectly serviceable.
When being on a budget means we can’t go to the movies or eat
in restaurants or travel as often as we like, the tendency toward
self-pity is strong.
friend of ours, Diana “Wonder Woman” Woodruff, recently
moved to Nigeria with her family. She quickly learned that the
things she threw away were considered to be treasures by the local
population. She recently wrote an essay about it (One
Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure),
where she estimated that everything she threw out—from poopy
diapers to rotten food—was handled by at least seven groups of
human beings, who looked through every single item to see if it could
be reused in some way. A real eye-opener for her was a fight that
broke out between two sets of people who wanted the crates that were
used to ship the family’s belongings overseas. As it turned
out, the people wanted to use these wooden crates for houses—not
for dogs or for chickens, but for their families.
Here are some Nigerian houses Diana found that were made from shipping containers.
I think of people living in those conditions, any anguish I have over
my inability to furnish our bedroom becomes laughable. How can we be
so fortunate, when people all over the world don’t have walls
in their homes or food in their stomachs?
not saying we should feel so guilty that we can’t enjoy what we
have. But I do hope that sometimes as we think of our blessings, we
feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the good things we have been
weren’t given these things because we deserve them more than
other people. We were given them for reasons I can’t even
than feeling pride because of our riches or envy because we aren’t
as rich as the people next door, we should feel profoundly grateful
that we have been blessed far beyond measure. If we have that air of
humble gratitude, perhaps we’ll take our surplus and use it to
help the people around us rather than using it to increase our own
inventory of stuff. After all, the treasures of life can’t
truly be enjoyed if they are hoarded. On the contrary, they are
always sweetest when they are shared with others.
Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than
most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the
possiblity that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at
A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham
Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight
because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she
wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She
was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.
Kathy married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five
years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A
Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.
A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy still moderates a weekly column
("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored
Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which
would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name
and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.
Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she writes a blog entry every
weekday. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically
allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.
Kathy teaches the Young Women in her ward. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.