Today’s food was – you guessed it – pretty much the same as yesterday’s, except for the addition of some celery from our garden.
To re-cap what we’re eating (per person):
Breakfast: 3 weetbix, 200ml milk, 1 boiled egg.
Lunch: 4 slices bread with table spread and peanut butter, half a kiwifruit.
Dinner: 100g rice, 80g baked beans, a carrot, some leek, celery, onion, half an egg, and some spice.
Snack: carrot sticks and peanut butter.
For costings, please see my previous post Live Below The Line: Day One.
D and I are social people. I’m the extrovert in our relationship, so I am always inviting people over for dinner. On average we entertain once a week, and that’s not including our fortnightly church home group that we host and provide dinner for.
This week we’ve had several friends and relatives drop by. It was weird to have to say ‘I would offer you tea or coffee, but we can’t as we’re doing Live Below the Line. Everyone totally understands of course, and it has led to some good discussions which I think has encouraged others to give it a go next year.
D and I will definitely do LBTL again, and I may try and wangle some hospitality milk and tea into next year’s budget. The whole experience got me thinking about hospitality when you live in poverty.
You might think that being poor would preclude offering hospitality to others, but my experience is the exact opposite.
Working at the Soup Kitchen in Wellington, I was certainly exposed to a lot of terrible, heart-breaking behaviour. But I also witnessed camaraderie and generosity amongst those who had almost nothing. The main meal at night cost $2, and I would often see people ‘shouting’ a friend dinner as they had no money, because the friend had done the same for them in the past. Or simply because their mate hadn’t eaten in several days.
D spent a couple of weeks living in the slums of Manila and was shown unbelievable hospitality by his host family, where the main breadwinner earned about $2 a day. He was taken everywhere, introduced to everybody, and given the best food that they could offer.
I don’t want to make it sound like there’s a bunch of happy, clappy poor people out there, feeling so gosh darned great about being poor together. I imagine instead there is an ocean of anger, pain, hopelessness and desperation. But there is a certain sense of solidarity amongst poorer communities that I don’t see amongst the rich. When you’re poor, you have to live on top of each other. But you might actually know your neighbours. When you’re poor you borrow a friend’s car because you don’t have one, but you might have friends that have walked in your shoes and are happy to let you use it. When you’re poor you might let a mate crash at your place for a few days, a week, a few months. Better to have the place filled than wasted guest rooms that are only slept in a few nights a year.
I am rich, but I have a lot to learn about true hospitality.