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Three Simple Gifts and a Laugh

Most of us strive to look good for others, and that's where "self-righteousness and pride" can settle in if we aren't prudent. Here is such a story where the heroine got a good laugh from her puffed-up ways.

My Big Idea

Catherine, a new mother of twins in our Catholic parish, needed meals. So the parish ladies signed up to bring her dinners. It was my turn that Friday, and as I was sitting in Adoration, I decided to jazz up my meal presentation. I'd add some frugal gifts so that the other church ladies who helped a lot would notice my generosity. So besides my meal contribution of Skid Road Stroganoff from The I Hate to Cookbook by Peg Bracken, I'd throw in some flowers, a homemade soap dish, and extra canned goods. I knew Catherine was hungry from nursing two babies, but surely I'd impress her with my unselfishness; however, I should have studied Proverbs 16:18 first!

"Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."

How My Big Idea Became Prideful

So I came home, whipped up Catherine's dinner, and set about making the three simple gifts. The first--daisies gathered from my front yard--were placed in a plastic water bottle covered with a rolled-down-old-sock. Looked cute. Secondly, I put river rocks in a glass dish and added a soap cake. Useful. And finally, I filled a brown paper bag with canned goods from my pantry--mayonnaise, tuna, baked beans, pineapple chunks, and enchilada sauce. I did consider throwing in some sardines and a can of dog food but felt I was too generous, and I also rolled down the brown paper bag so it would look like it contained more than it did. Then the hot noodles went into a Ziploc Bag and the cooked stroganoff into a used yogurt container, and off I went to deliver my goods. Only the cleaning lady was there, so I put the dinner perishables in the refrigerator and placed the three simple gifts on the coffee table with great pride so the other ladies who were daily helping might notice.

How My Big Idea Turned Out

Catherine called and left a message of thanks, and two days later, after Mass, I asked her how she liked the stroganoff. She said, "What do you mean; I thought the dinner you brought was all of those canned goods, so I put them all together and ate them. I am as hungry as a cow!" Visualizing what she'd eaten, I explained that my stroganoff was in the white yogurt container in her refrigerator. We laughed. Thank heavens I hadn't included the sardines and the dog food, or she probably would have woofed those down too.

I had failed to see the one I was serving in all of my endeavoring. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 And PRIDE had gotten in my way. But Catherine and I both sure had a good laugh!

Skid Road Stroganoff from The I Hate To Cook Book   by Peg Bracken  1960 (serves 4)

8 ounces noodles (cooked)

One garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 pound ground beef

Two tablespoons flour

One teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon paprika

Two small cans of mushrooms

One can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 cup sour cream or thick Greek yogurt

Chopped parsley

While the noodles are cooking, brown the meat in a skillet and after it is browned and drained of excess oil, add all the other ingredients except the sour cream and let them simmer for 10 minutes.  Now stir in the sour cream, serve over the noodles, and sprinkle with extra paprika and chopped parsley.


Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.

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