Christianity and cheeseburgers: a dilemma

August 21, 2008 | Conversion, Daily Spirituality | 64 comments

Tuesday night was cheeseburger night. Such a meal is a bit of a delicacy with our scaled back grocery budget these days, and after a typical draining day I could not wait to slather my patty with mayo, top it with some tomatoes and ketchup, and sink my teeth into my cheesy reward. Mmm-mmm-MMMMM!

Just as I finished molding the last raw patty, I heard a knock at the door. It was two of the girls, sisters Catherine and Carmen*, here to report an important development in their frog collecting activities. I was barely able to get a word in to invite them inside, and listened to their breathless stories of their big afternoon as I cooked up the burgers on a stovetop skillet. I noticed that they were making themselves comfortable on our living room couch, glanced down at the sizzling burgers in front of me and realized:

There wasn’t enough for all of us.

Even though they’ve been spending 2 – 8 hours a day over here, they often drift back to their house or to Riley’s house for meals. It didn’t even occur to me to buy enough meat just in case they’d be here, since they only end up eating dinner with us a few times a month.

“I wish mom was home, ” I overheard 10-year-old Catherine say to Carmen. “I’d really like to show her the house I build for Henry [the newest frog she found].”

Their mom, a great lady and single mother doing her best to get by, has had to travel a lot for work this summer, sometimes being gone for a week at a time. Their grandmother has been taking care of them, but she was out for the night on Tuesday. If I didn’t invite them to dinner I’d be sending them home to an empty house. I looked at them, then back to the skillet, where the cheese slices I’d placed on the burgers were just beginning to melt.

I had a dilemma: there were not enough cheeseburgers for all of us. We had one extra (that my husband and I were planning to split), but there were two guests. I’d been looking forward to this meal for a couple of days. The way I saw it, my choices were:

  1. Apologetically tell them they couldn’t eat with us.
  2. Invite them to eat, but tell them that since I didn’t know they were coming there weren’t burgers for them, and offer to make them a peanut butter sandwich instead (pretty much the only other food we had on hand).
  3. Pull my husband aside as soon as he got home, frantically whine about it, and ultimately ask him to sacrifice his burger even though he’d also been really looking forward to the meal.
  4. Set the table with places for them, and discreetly make myself a peanut butter sandwich as if that’s how I planned it all along.

What I find interesting about this dilemma is that I found a battle raged in my brain between the “new convert” part of me and the “been a Christian for a while” part of me:

The new convert in me asked: “What would Jesus do? Would your spiritual heroes, great Christian role models like Therese of Lisieux, Francis of Assisi, and Frances of Rome, give up their cheeseburgers?” The answer was undoubtedly yes. The way to show Christ to these girls (and to my family) would be to cheerfully set a place for them at the table, asking only what they would like on their burgers, and happily make myself a peanut butter sandwich.

The part of me who’s been a Christian for a while now and is maybe a little less, uhh, zealous these days said: “Come on, they came over totally unexpectedly. Jesus wants you to have the cheeseburger! Ask them if they want to split the extra one or something. They have to understand, you can’t feed them a nice dinner with five seconds notice! Nobody would expect you to do that.”

I hesitantly asked if they wanted to stay for dinner, secretly hoping that maybe they’d say no and my dilemma would be solved. They shyly said yes, seeming relieved that I’d asked. I stood there in my kitchen, my stomach growling as I looked from the sizzling burgers to my little friends in the living room, trying to decide what to do.

I’d love to know: If you found yourself standing there in that moment, what would you do? What do you think would be the right path in that situation?

I’ll tell you how it actually played out in the comments tomorrow.

UPDATE: Instead of updating in the comments, I did an update post here.

* Not their real names.

64 Comments

  1. The Bottolfini's

    I could smell the yummy cheeseburgers cooking and hear the grease popping as I read your story. I wanted to eat them so badly! I probably would have offered up half burgers to the girls (so there was no waste) and ate half a burger myself (giving the extra half to hubby. That’s not very Christian of me, is it?

  2. Hope@Pinkadoodledoo

    What a great post and a great dilemma! I wanted to see what your solution was, but alas I’ll wait until tomorrow.

    I think I probably would have served them the cheeseburgers, ate one myself, and sent the husband to his favorite fast food place to pick up exactly what he had been craving. However, staying on a budget, I might have fixed myself something else to eat and watched them eat the cheeseburger with a slight hint of righteousness in my decision with a bit of jealousy that I wasn’t the one eating them. Not the answer I would like to have, but I’m a work in progress!

  3. walt

    Dear Ms J. – I havn't gotten to your "solution" yet but I'm hoping it will be one that I have used on many similar occations – now wasn't that P,B &J sandwhich filling; both physically and spiritually.
    Of course, I have been known to also "go-to-the-store" after dinner and pig-out at McD's when no one else knew!

    Now, onto your solution –

    walt

  4. Stephanie

    wow.
    I think I'd just feed everyone else, and wait on them, and THEN eat the PB and J by myself later on, when they couldn't see it. So that they wouldn't feel badly.
    BUT, knowing my hubby, he'd make me eat 1/2 of HIS burger, or He'd eat the PB&J……so that's why I'd wait till they'd all eaten, and act sooooo busy, and then eat myself later……

    WHAT DID YOU DO!??!?!?!??!?!?

  5. HomeandHearth

    The way I was raised (there sometimes wasn’t *quite* enough food in the house for everyone to have a big full plate, or to have seconds), there was a “dinner hierarchy.” It went: grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, and then youngest sibling – oldest sibling.

    Basically, the people above you on the list had first dibs on full plates/seconds. As the eldest girl, I remember being pulled aside into the kitchen plenty of times so my mom could let me know not to ask for seconds until my grandparents had finished eating, or that I’d better get nice and full on the salad. We never truly went hungry, but I feel that it was good training for putting others first.

    So, looong answer short, in your situation I’d have to go with the peanut butter sandwich (and hope that I could do it gracefully — I don’t like peanut butter sandwiches!).

  6. Gina

    Considering I hate cheeseburgers, this would have been a no-brainer for me. 🙂 But considering how much it sounds like you love them, that must have been a tough one. Make it hot dogs, and I’d be right there agonizing with you. I might have given them up, but I would certainly grumble about it, God forgive me.

  7. Anonymous

    It’s one thing to do the right thing, and another to feel good about doing it.

    Something similar happened to me. I had a couple of moms (plus their 10 kids) over for cookie-baking. I had a big salad for us and planned peanut butter sandwiches, fruit, and cheese for the kids.

    Then 1 of moms said that her son is allergic to peanut butter and no one can eat it around him.

    I was horrified, because I had nothing else on hand. Righteous indignation flared up. WHY didn’t she tell me ahead of time?

    She offered to pick up a pizza for all the kids, but I knew her family was in financial trouble.

    I pulled the last of my grocery money from the envelope and ordered one.

    I couldn’t do anything less, but I did feel a little resentful until the next paycheck came in. Not my best moment as a hostess!

    I’m leaving this anonymous for obvious reasons!

  8. Christopher Milton

    Ugh.

    Sacrifice my burger, I guess… 🙂

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder about sacrifice, dying of ourselves, etc, etc.

  9. Stretch Mark Mama

    I would have split the burgers and each person had half. Then scour the cupboards for filler.

  10. reprehriestless warillever

    I think that Stephanie has the best answer (act busy so that no one notices that you don’t have a burger), but I would probably be just like “Hope,” doing so without a truly giving heart.

  11. Anonymous

    as a bachelor non cook city dweller who lives alone and usually eats alone half the week, sounds like a nice problem to have.

  12. Ginkgo100

    What WOULD I have done? Not sure. But some possible solutions:

    Three burgers for four people equals 3/4 burger per person. Unfortunately this requires remembering how to do fractions and applying a protractor to the burgers, and 3/4 burger is not a lot of food for an adult.

    If your husband had a cell phone, you could have asked him to pick up some meat on the way home so you could make more. Unfortunately this takes time — and you already had the burgers done!

    I'm curious what your kids were going to eat. If they had burgers too, they could have been the ones demoted to PB&J.

    It's important to be a good hostess and a generous Christian, but you're not doing the girls a favor by failing to teach them concern for others, too.

    I think I would have ended up doing one of two things: scrounge up another entree or hearty side dish for everyone to share and to make the burgers go farther, or explain the dilemma to the girls and see what they can come up with. Kids that age can surprise you with their smarts and creativity in problem-solving.

  13. Amy

    I think I would have split all the burgers into quarters and called them mini burgers. That way everyone would have some, but nobody would feel slighted by being served only a half. (I've learned with my kids that making ordinary foods seem novel with fun ways of serving them goes a long way!)

    I wish that I could say I would have cheerfully eaten the PB&J, but I'm being honest here.

  14. Anonymous

    “Of course you’re welcome for dinner! But, hmmm… I’m not sure we have enough burgers for everyone. I think I could make a peanut butter sandwich, though–would anyone like that?”

    With [4? 5?] kids eating, the probability that someone would choose PB over cheeseburger seems pretty high. Although I think if everyone else goes for cheeseburger, your graciously eating the PB yourself is the best approach.

    Curious to hear what you did.

  15. Anonymous

    If I were your guest, I would eat all of your cheeseburgers. They sound so delicious!

    But really, I might have tried to be creative and maybe cut them up and divide them some way – when you crave red meat, it is so hard to say no! And, I would agree with gingko that it is also right to teach the girls concern for others too.

  16. AmyDe

    peanut butter and lots of grace (from Him). These children were hungry and alone and I know you felt that, I also know how hard it would feel to be where you were.

  17. Hallie

    Given what I ate for lunch on Wednesday, I’m intrigued. 😉

  18. Julie D.

    I’d have chopped them into chunks, boiled up some egg noodles (they cook super fast), and tossed them all together … voila, a new dish is born: Cheeseburger Toss! 🙂

  19. Garden Gal

    well, if i didn't have all the internal spiritual struggle going on & saw the situation in it's basics – not enough food / too many mouths to feed – then my first instinct would be to attempt to feed everyone with what i had on hand & maybe add a salad or something to the mix.

    BUT, i'm a foodie – & for the most part – i'd probably be having the same dilemma in my head. Obviously the "right" or "Christian" choice is to sacrifice to feed someone else. but that doesn't mean it's an easy choice every time. i would hope that i'd find satisfaction in the sacrifice rather than grumble or boast about it later.

  20. Rachel

    I would have given up the burger, and it wouldn’t have been difficult. I’ve often seen opportunities to minister to others pass me by in which I was selfish, knew I was being selfish and realized what a wretch I was later on. I’ve learned to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting when it comes to moments like that.

  21. Veronica @Toddled Dredge

    I probably would have halved the burgers and split them all around. Assuming that the girls liked burgers, which is no guarantee.

    I claim the loaves and fishes as precedent.

    Perhaps it’s not relevant to your story, but I find that my choices in such situations involve a deliberate choice that it is okay for people to see that we do not have much money. Too many of our peers treat poverty like it is a moral failing or something to be ashamed of. I try not to do things that pretend away our financial difficulties, even if it makes someone uncomfortable.

  22. Jeana

    I would have divided them evenly among everyone and offered sides or PB & J as seconds.

  23. Michelle

    That's a tough one. The best solution for me would have been to divide up what you had between everyone. That way the girls get something to eat and you at least get a taste of your cheeseburgers. I'm sure they would appreciate the fact that you gave them anything at all. If you're still hungry later your family can partake in an after dinner pb& j. It's hardest to share when there's not much to share. Tough choice all the way around.

  24. Christine

    I have 4 kids to feed. I wonder if I really would have add more. I wonder?

    Thanks for making me think.

  25. Diva Mom Vicki

    If I hadn’t cooked the patties yet I would have browned the meat, added some tomato paste and/or condensed tomato soup, covered the entire pan with cheese until melted then spooned it onto half a bun and serve as a ‘Cheeseburger Sloppy Joe’.

    If the patties were already cooked I’d offer them to the kids but send my husband to McDee’s for a $1 Double Cheeseburger later!

  26. foursure

    I would have sliced one horizontally and served it to the girls as though it were a full burger. I don’t know that that’s what I should do, but I’m pretty sure it’s what I would have done. Looking forward to your solution!

  27. Anonymous

    This reminds me of the quote from someone (forgot who) about the selflessness of a mother, something to the effect that, “A mother is someone who, when realizing there’s only two pieces of pie left for three people, announces that she never did like pie after all.”

    No amount of fractionning or clever over-thinking would have been as satisfying as feeding those kids those burgers whole. If I’d eaten one while giving them sub-par grub, I’d have gotten indigestion.

  28. Anonymous

    I often have unexpected dinner guests in the form of my son’s friends or occasional drop-in adult guests, and I’ve faced this dilemma many times. Although it is a good study of Christian sacrifice in miniature, I would like to think that this is more a question of etiquette and basic human decency. It is abhorrent to me to think of eating something “nice” in front of guests, and offering them second-best. Likewise, the laws of hospitality tend to forbid ejecting people from your home as you’re preparing dinner. Now, kids don’t know the reciprocal rule, which is that you should refuse the offer unless your hostess absolutely insists, but, hey, they’re kids.

    Anyway, here’s what I do when this happens. I ransack the cupboards for hearty accompaniments or alternatives. Mac-n-cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, fish sticks, frozen chicken nuggets, etc. It’s my experience that in any group of kids, you’re going to find at least one that doesn’t like the main entree and will take an alternative. Problem solved. With a cheerful attitude and plenty of grace, you enjoy a better meal than you would have had alone. (And I would love it if this were the ending to your story, too.)

    Even if the kids eat all the cheeseburgers (we call this the “locust effect” in our house), I don’t find it too painful to give up my portion for guests. I can always get more later.

    Catherine

  29. Amity

    I would have cut the three burgers into quarters, and if anyone still looked hungry when they were gone, I would have dragged out some fruit or salad. I’m far too hungry, as a breastfeeding mom, to sacrifice all of that valuable protein and still be a good host – I get shaky. What did you do?

  30. Nicole

    For better or worse, I was born with the ‘feeder gene.’ I would give the kids the burgers and eat peanut butter (ugh). But, I would most definitely go looking around the couch and car, trying to gather 99 cents for a burger the next day.
    My bigger challenge would be to do this act without telling my husband. My husband would offer me his burger. And of course, I would get “credit” for being Christian-like. Giving that up, is a whole lot harder that it looks and probably warrants a blog posting all on its own. 🙂

  31. Anonymous

    I agree with the splitting up approach. My thesis is that I don’t think it’s any less Christian but I won’t stretch this comment by adding my supportive arguments.

    I am very appreciative of what veronica@toddled… said. I live in a wealthy area. We’re more than comfortable, but I often find myself stretching just to “put on the ritz” for our frequent guests. If I look at my motives there, then I might find something a lot less Christian than offering a teenage girl 1/2 of a burger + 1/2 PBJ sandwich!!!

  32. Katie

    Interesting! I’d probably apologize and explain I didn’t have enough for everyone to have a full burger, and ask if they minded splitting one, while offering to make peanut butter sandwhiches as well, if they wanted more.

  33. Jen

    Wow, my first thought was that I’d just take the pb sandwich. Easiest, and yeah, I’d rather have the burger but I’d also rather give it up than deal with the guilt I’d feel later.

    But after reading the comments, I do think you can graciously and creatively come up with more food, offered to everyone, without making anyone feel guilty. You could have cut each burger in half and made up several pb sandwich halves, stacked on a big platter in the middle of the table to serve. That way, everyone can have a taste of the meat and suppliment with pb.

    Doing this with kids is no big deal. If it were adults, I may rethink it.

    Looking forward to hearing what you did!

  34. Marian

    Knowing the girls’ situation, I would have easily taken my portion, 1 1/2 burgers, and given us each 1/2 burger, offering whatever else was on hand for filling up. I don’t know if I honestly would have given up my portion entirely, but maybe. It would depend on whether the spiritual aspect occured to me, or if I was simply thinking of my stomach by that point!

  35. Anonymous

    By the time I finished reading your post, I was set on my answer – I would give them burgers and eat a peanut butter sandwich myself beforehand, then plead no appetite at the table. I’d do it happily.

    But after reading the comments, I reconsidered. This situation could be seen as an opportunity for the girls to truly appreciate the Christian spirit (or just plain hospitality) not subconsciously, while they were wolfing down my burger, but openly, taught to them with good grace.

    So I’d cheerfully let them know we didn’t have enough burgers for all, and invite them into my pantry to help me figure out how we could use various ingredients to expand the meal into a “high tea” – a bitsy feast of things. I’d make it fun, friendly, and welcoming, but at the same time they could see what someone was willing to do for them. They could appreciate the reality of your situation – but still feel welcome too. And hopefully that would better inform their gratitude rather than leaving them at risk of assuming too much and perhaps eventually becoming bludgers, which would be a shame for them.

  36. Elizabeth

    Serve everyone else the burgers.

    Ask the girls to help clean-up afterwards.

    II Thess.3:10 reads: “that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

    Two lessons for the price of one!

    The girls are not really guests as much as you are their unpaid sitter! 😉 I have a similar issue at my home with several untended children wandering about–empty homes, broken families. I am gracious and allow them to spend lots of time in my home, but I also have boundaries and rules.

  37. Bender

    I can’t be the mom, but if I were the dad, I would either give mine to the other guest and have something else (not peanut butter, ew, I’m not that sacrificial) or suggest that mom and me split one between us and we both supplement it with something else.

    Besides, I eat enough cheeseburgers at McDonalds. I can do without for one day.

    And just be thankful we are not observant Jews, who can’t eat cheeseburgers at all!

    I’d also be thankful for the wise words over at Inside Catholic.

  38. JoAnn

    I would have served all the kids half a cheeseburger and the adults a whole one, since adults eat more than kids do anyway. Then I would have added side dishes to ensure there was enough food for everyone.

  39. Lex

    I may have said, “Hey, girls, I have an extra cheeseburger, would you like to split it?”

    Oh, I’d probably eat the peanut butter and then take a bite of one of my kids’ burgers that would most likely only get half-eaten because they never eat their plate clean.

  40. Catholic Bibliophagist

    No contest! I would have given the girls the burgers. I was raised with a strong hospitality ethic — the best goes to the guest. So my response may be more culture than Catholicism. Of course, it was a Catholic culture . . .

  41. Marit

    my husband would offer up his cheeseburger, he’s just that kind of guy.. I would too, filled with resentment, because that’s me 🙁 and then probably sneak bites off of everybodies plates, because that’s me too…:-(

  42. Jackie Parkes

    Hi Jennifer..would you mind adding my blog to your links please?

  43. RedSalamander

    Well, I guess the truly hospitable host would give up her burger…but in my experience with feeding neighborhood kids who end up staying for dinner, kids often cannot eat an entire burger (particularly if you are serving other tasty side dishes like tater tots and corn on the cob). So I would have made kid-sized burgers which hopefully would be sufficient. That way everyone gets a small burger (mind you, I prefer mine big & juicy) which is better than me going without while three random kids discard burgers after taking 3 bites.

  44. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings

    Oooo…that’s a toughy. I mommy-bear protect our dinner time as “sacred” right now to establish the habit in the Vikings young so that first instinct would be to send them home. LOL

    That being said – it irritates DaHubby to no end that I will “sneakily” take the smallest portion or give my portion up all together if he or the Vikings want more of something I make. Being my biggest earthly advocate, I know he’s just looking out for me! LOL

    With two small ones in the house at this point, I would probably have given halves to my kids AND halves to the girls.

    Or, maybe cut ALL the burgers in halves claiming that the way we always do it so none goes to waste. At least everyone would have gotten *something* for their first servings and I can always make my family a snack again later.

  45. Soul Pockets

    Being a mom of four kids I am used to sacrificing my food. I would give the kids and my husband the cheeseburgers, tell them I was not hungry and when the girls left I would go to a fast food place and get a cheeseburger. If I did not have the money I would settle for the PB&J and treat myself to any sweets in the house. (I guess the last part is why I have to go on a diet)

  46. Anonymous

    I actually have this problem a lot, since our family of 8 has drop-in company at dinnertime quite frequently, and we have a strict budget.

    I would have quickly popped some popcorn to fill up hungry tummies and give me time to think about what to do. Then I would have cut all the hamburgers in halves or quarters making them "fun burgers".

    Then I would have made some PB&J sandwiches and cheese and mayo sandwiches on whatever bread I could scrounge up, and cut them in halves or quarters to mimic the "fun burgers".

    Set them all out on a big platter having everyone help themselves, but making sure my husband got enough "fun burger" to equal at least 1 full-size cheeseburger.

    Then I would have smiled and laughed through dinner, having a great time, cos secretly, I enjoy drop-in company and the interesting conversations they bring to the table. For some reason, drop-in company makes my own family seem more fun and spontaneous.

  47. Shelly W

    I would have the same inner struggle you did (although you described it much better than I could). My needs or theirs? My cheeseburger or theirs? I’ll bet you anything you made that peanut butter sandwich, fully intending to eat it, and one of the girls wanted it more than a cheeseburger–dilemma solved!

    BTW, we had cheeseburgers on Tuesday, too! 🙂

  48. amy

    Of course, I’m still not quite “there” faith-wise, so my answer may not count for much, but it seems to me that the girls were probably wanting your company more than anything else–surely their mom didn’t leave them with no food to eat at their house–so the food issue seems secondary to me.

    I would invite them to stay, and give them the choice of half-burgers or full-sized peanut butter sandwiches, explaining there aren’t enough hamburgers to go around. Perhaps they prefer peanut butter to cheesburgers. I don’t like cheesburgers (I prefer plain hamburgers), so if I showed up and you gave me your cheesburger without asking my preference, I would have to politely choke down something I don’t like while depriving you of something you do. Giving them a choice also takes away the possibility that they feel guilty for your sacrificing a hamburger when they didn’t ask you to. And it gives them an opportunity to be generous as well. Being kids, perhaps they’d miss it and go for the burgers, but at least there was a choice.

  49. nicole

    I’m pretty sure I would have offered them the burgers. I wouldn’t have liked it, I wouldn’t have done it with the cheerful spirit that would make it better, but I would have done it. Being a grown-up, and a Christian one at that, is sometmes a bummer. At least temporarily.

  50. Anonymous

    I would have, immediately upon seeing the girls, quickly grabbed the burgers off the skillet and reformed them with lest meat in each one, creating, voila, an extra burger. If the burgers were too far cooked to do that, I would have sliced the extra burger in half lengthwise, creating two thinner burgers, thus sacrificing our extra half and giving each of the girls a whole hamburger experience. Sometimes romantic notions of "charity" cloud people's good sense. If you sacrifice your whole burger, you are teaching the young girls that they should expect to be served like that (they would notice you and the pb&j)- that is not charity.

  51. Martin

    Hmmm ….. Jesus would have had performed a multiplication of burgers and everyone would have had their fill with plenty left over!

    But since I don’t have that ability … I probably would have split the remaining burger between the two of them and given them more filler food. Chips, fries, pork and beans, those sorts of thing.

    Jennifer, stove top burgers? You really need to get a grill to do burgers some justice!

  52. 'Becca

    You know, I don’t recall that the stories of loaves and fishes say that Jesus pretended he wasn’t hungry or that he ate figs instead. He divided the food, and there was enough for everyone.

    In my experience, children often do not eat their full portion, even if they like the food. Serving a small amount at a time is a sensible strategy. (I recall, though, that you’re on a diet with a No Seconds rule. Maybe you could make an exception for this situation.)

    It seems to me that what Jesus would do is cut all the burgers in half, give each person a half, and then let those who need more take more, including Himself.

  53. schu

    I have a Mayo and fresh tomato sandwhich and give the cheesburger up. I think I would talk to mom and gandmom though. At least some notice would be nice.

  54. Happy Appy Wife

    I grew up in a large family, and we too had a dinner protocol. Father, Brothers, Mother, Sisters – that's just the way it was. If this were my family, I'd have been the one eating the PB&J.

    That being said…I personally would have set aside two burgers for my husband, and distributed the rest among the children.

    Which leaves me staring at the PB&J. It would have been that, or nothing.

    I might have given up that meal as a fast…for the suffering of hungry children.

  55. Imajackson

    I would have given them the burger and then made another sandwich for myself. Although, that’s the way I was raised in a Bed and Breakfast where you took care of all guests first and yourself second. My husband would have taken another road, but we all even each other out.

    Although, we are not at the place with finances where we cannot eat burgers when we want. We still have affordable food (though, for how long, I don’t know). We live in an agriculturally rich area close to rivers, fields, the ocean and game so we have close access to a lot of different foods. We just sent off the check to buy 1/2 a cow in December, to keep costs down the next 1.5 years and to keep meat to give away as well.

    Two days ago I was at the store and I told my 2 yr old she could get some apple juice. I looked in the cooler section for a small apple juice and my jaw dropped when I saw the price for the 12 oz plastic bottle of juice: $1.79. Three years ago, I bought apples trees for that price.

  56. Anonymous

    Let me say that I am very grateful to see such a spirit of charity and sacrifice for the sake of others. Very grateful.

    That said . . . one tiny, little, itsy-bitsy, miniscule observation, if I may. Just a small one.

    Perhaps there is a better way than to combine lies with our charity (Oh, I'm not hungry; Oh, I didn't really want one; Oh, I love PB&J more than anything; etc.), or to take a great deal of pride in playing the saint. Not that I'm accusing anyone here of that, but the temptation is often there, and if indulged in, only leads to problems, such as subconscious resentment.

    So, be open and honest — there is not enough for everyone to have the same thing, so I will volunteer to eat something else. If someone interjects that they truly don't mind and insist that I keep my cheeseburger, then everyone is happy and a good lesson of charity and humility is learned by the practice of it by others.

    On the practical side, simply cutting them in half and putting them on one big platter could solve much of the problem because, with kids especially, some might not eat a whole one, and they will leave a good portion of it on their plate (despite all the starving children in China).

  57. Can I Change A Life?

    Your post reminded me of how incredibly lucky I am, and how selfish I still am. I would like to say that I’d debate the best way to display Christianity through this, but in reality cravings for the burger would factor into it.

    But it’s only a burger! It’s not some great moral dilemma! It’s incredibly humbling to read your post and realize that my greed for it would impact how I’d think about things.

    You’ve showed me how far I have yet to go. Thanks for writing this.

  58. shaun

    I’d cut them in half and quickly boil up some buttered noodles, or find some extra raw veggies in the fridge, or plan to pop popcorn later if we’re still hungry.

    If the family seemed like they were taking advantage of your kindness, then maybe it’s time to treat them more like family than guests, which includes making more substantial contributions to cleaning up and meal prep.

    But otherwise I would feel uncomfortable trying to “teach a lesson” to little girls who don’t have a parent to go home to on a particular night.

  59. mrsdarwin

    Two options, depending on how you felt at the moment.

    1) give up the cheeseburger, eat the PB&J, and then send husband out to Sonic later that night to pick up cheeseburgers and fries.

    2) school them in the realities of having a big family (nothing unChristian about that!) and split hamburgers for children.

    Either way, have them help clean up — it sounds like they're willing to help.

  60. Someone Being Me

    I was in this position not too long ago with a couple of extra guests. I will usually try to throw together an extra side dish to help but with hamburgers that wouldn’t really work. I always make sure everyone else has food first and then I eat whatever is left over. I would have let the girls have my burger and made something for me to eat later so they don’t feel bad.

  61. Miss Cellania

    I don’t see much of a dilemma, since this happens at my house a lot -just not with hamburgers, since we don’t buy meat. I always manage to find myself something else to eat. Doing without for the kids (mine and everyone else’s) is just part of life. Maybe it’s easier since I don’t have to figure a husband or his opinions into the equation.

  62. FrazzMom

    I thought along the same lines as Jen… Splitting the cheeseburgers and supplementing with PB&J, could extend grace without pretense.

  63. Anonymous

    I’m an engineer. I’d get out a scale and a chart. I’d figure out who is most under/over their target weight. Then I’d calculate the number of calories in the various dishes. Then I’d make a list of what everyone had at lunch and calculate their prior caloric intake. And the solution just naturally appears from the data! This could be a fun project and a great learning experience.
    (Aren’t you all you’re not married to an engineer!)

  64. Jennifer F.

    I’ve just loved reading all these comments – thank you! In case anyone missed it, my update is here.

    Thank you!

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