Day 3: Gratitude is Recognizing the Value of the Unseen

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My friend asked to give voice to my gratitude for three things, once a day for a week. Today I found my inspiration at the grocery store.

Day 3. Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I woke up feeling very sore and uncomfortable. My fractured shoulder gave me a fit last night and I made that mistake of falling asleep with ice on it. I didn’t move at all and now my back is complaining. Over the years I have learned that there is no use, but to get up. I ask myself what there is to do that won’t involve sitting or laying around? I decide to go buy groceries. With no children to feed in the house, food choices have changed for the better and I need to restock. Darn, I sure wish there were a farmer’s market nearby, but off to the local supermarket I go.

Starting by purchasing a hot cup of chai, I decide to walk through every aisle just because I can. As I wandered, I thought of the many things I need to do around the house that I would rather put off. Then I remembered that I have to write my post about gratitude.

I have shopped at this grocery store since 1986 when I first moved to Sacramento. During that time it has been remodeled once, and it was a nice facelift. I remember at the time, how many of us felt put out during the construction phase. The location of certain items was changed, certain aisle were closed for new flooring, and the place smelled like paint as walls were painted with bright with various themes to related to the departments they border.

Over the years, just like today, I have varied my purchases to reflect the epoch of my life. I recall frequent trips to the baby food aisle and general avoidance of the candy aisle. I remember that in the early years I hated going down the cereal aisle for fear of the amount of time it would take to allow my children to choose a healthy cereal. It took twenty “nos” to discourage all the sugary stuff until by process of elimination they would end up with Cheerios or some equally unoffensive box of breakfast food.

During my little excursion onto memory lane I decided on three things in the grocery store for which I am grateful.

I am grateful for the produce section. The produce section of any supermarket is usually indicative of the region in which you find yourself. If there are fruits and vegetables from your area you are lucky, and if not then you can tell by the prices.  We in the state of California are blessed beyond measure in this regard. When they were younger I often kidded that my children are fruit bats and would eat me out of house and home. Even more frequently now, and in all seriousness I lament the lack of variety my daughter lives with in Alabama.

My family has never been hungry and I have always had the choice of what to feed them. Growing up in an area of California where fresh food is grown all around and readily available has  allowed me to develop an affinity for healthy living. Cooking vegetables is not foreign to me and thankfully eating fresh produce is not foreign to my children. When I read about people living in major cities where there are whole sections of town that do not have a grocery store nearby and have to rely on prepared foods or gas station mini-marts for their meals, I am heartbroken.

Similarly, I am thankful for the many hands that work to fill our produce sections with product.  Their bodies are blessed with the ability to perform farm labor to feed the world. That the people of this country sometimes bite the hands that feeds them, or at best discount their contribution  is sad to me as well. I am grateful for this produce section and all that it implies.

I am grateful for the magazines. Crazy, huh?  I usually only subscribe to magazine as as result of school fundraisers and the like. However, before my children went off to college we subscribed to National Geographic and Sports Illustrated magazines, among others. These magazines fueled my kids’ reading habits and increased their knowledge about those things that peaked their interest in the world around them. The magazines in the grocery store were sometimes used as rewards for good behavior or accomplishments and were often less educational, but fun to give to my kids anyway. My daughter in particular would hang out to read in the magazine aisle  while I gathered our grocery list.

Magazines bring topics relevant to today’s culture into our home, they are considered a treat by any standard (due to cost and the fact that they are consumable in short bursts of reading time). They are easily transportable into any location without worry over ruining or losing them. Over the years our preferences have moved from children’s magazines to those reserved for more serious content. This change, while a little sad, is evidence that magazines are indeed vehicles that satiate curiosity and and foster the love of reading.

Magazines demonstrate freedom of speech. The fact that we can choose what to read about from a rack in a grocery without interference from anyone, should boggle our minds. We should be standing in front of that magazine rack and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, or reciting Article One of the Constitution of these United States (or at least singing the School House Rock version of the preamble. I dare you not to sing along). Turn on any television channel and you will find reference to the lack of liberty all over the world. We are truly blessed to be able to speak our minds. For this I am grateful.

I am grateful I can shop at a grocery store that manages itself with the best interests of the consumer and the world we live in. The Raley’s / Bel Air family of supermarkets has been a pioneer in the business of food safety, energy efficiency and buying from local farmers to support the local economy and ensuring the freshness and quality of its produce. As the aunt of a child allergic to many food items, the selection of sugar free, gluten free, and other less main stream foods is abundant and sufficient to keep us healthy.

The company’s employees are unionized and while their agreement is always under review, they are represented. I am grateful for a business that cares for its impact on the environment, allows its workers a voice, and frees me from worrying about the safety of my food. I am not advertising for one particular chain, but rather I am happy that we have it available to us.  Many, many of the people in this world aren’t so lucky.

Those are the three, largely invisible things I realized I was grateful for while at the grocery store. When we look around at what we have, we usually look for the obvious. Being grateful for what we sometimes take for granted is a little more work, but oh so rewarding.

PS. I am also grateful for the wine selection. Yes, the wine selection.

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About Caro

I am a social worker by training and a peace officer by profession having worked with California’s delinquent youth and young adults for 28 years. I firmly believe that our development as humans depends on our environment and that sometimes we get stuck. As such, I write about those things we sometimes ignore or fail to see until we are forced to pay attention.
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