Kevin Hurren, Youth Speak News

Charity and temperance

By  Kevin Hurren, Youth Speak News
  • December 7, 2011

Turkey, roast beef, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables and fruitcake are just a few of the many items sure to grace shopping lists everywhere as Christmas approaches. Facing so many impending seasonal feasts, it seems the best thing to do is to loosen your belt and prepare for the onslaught of dinner courses. As the days get shorter in the winter months, the meals get longer and Christmas’ transformation into a festival of excess is all too apparent.

This abundance of food, however, is hard to recognize amongst all the cheer and good will. After all, what can be wrong with sharing a hearty meal between friends and family? The problem arises when wastefulness occurs. To acknowledge such wasted food, one must change their perspective — precisely what happened to me when I returned to my high school to participate in a program called ThinkFast. The program acts as a fundraiser, allowing students to raise money while committing themselves to a 24-hour fast. In addition to raising money, the students meet to collectively bond as a group, reflect on their faith and discuss what it really means to be hungry.

Although I am no longer a student at the school, I enthusiastically returned to participate in the fast. While I was still in high school I took part in ThinkFast and learned something new about myself each year. That didn’t change this year. I discovered a lack of appreciation so many of us have when it comes to food. There seemed to be a general consensus from the group that the difficulty with not eating for 24 hours is nothing compared to the situation of many families who experience this too often, not only around the world, but in Canada as well.

Seeing the younger students come to such conclusions not only brought me a bit of nostalgia, but gave me something to think about as I returned to my university residence. As the school term comes to an end, my fellow dorm mates have been getting excited as they talk about the Christmas meals they plan on diving into when they return home.

Considering the atmosphere I had just come from, this was quite jarring. I did not want to discourage my friends’ excitement, but I couldn’t so easily forget the pledges of sacrifice I had observed at ThinkFast. So, I developed a compromise, one that I hope many others will adopt. While I don’t intend to resemble any Grinch-like character — snatching turkey legs from my loved ones — I do suggest a policy of moderation.

While the extravagant feast is being prepared on Christmas day, perhaps just a modest supper will make due for Christmas Eve. Instead of making a double-sided grocery list, and checking it twice, make a list of food items you can donate this season to prevent others from being forced to fast this holiday season.

As Christmas approaches, remember the religious significance and try to replace the sins of greed and gluttony with the virtues of charity and temperance, because you don’t have to wait for the New Year to make positive resolutions.

(Hurren, 18, is a media, information and technoculture student at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont. Read his full profile at

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