Why I hope God has a sense of humor

My favorite method of food donation has backfired, and I’m standing here with soot on my face. I need help.

A long time ago I read an article that changed my perception, about a family that donated food to a needy family only to need it later themselves. They received back their own donation only to see what awful, useless food they’d donated. Since they, they’ve always donated their favorite and most indispensable foods.

In that same spirit, I use the BJ’s method of food donation: I buy multipacks and donate from that, and thus the recipients are eating exactly what we do. That way, if Jesus asks me to account for myself, I can point to our own family menus.

Over the weekend, I made hamburgers. Our ketchup bottle was out, so I went into the pantry to find the new one. When it didn’t show up immediately, I said, “Well, it came as a twin pack. I’ll just grab the one I was going to donate, and I’ll replace it later with the one in the pantry.”

I even laughed and said, “My scrupulous heart feels awful about taking ketchup from the mouths of starving children.”

Here’s the awful thing: after dinner, we looked again, and the bottle of ketchup has vanished. We have no idea where it went, but it’s totally gone. Poof! 

My Patient Husband swears he didn’t use it to pay a gambling debt. My son’s friends did not swipe it from the house in order to fulfill the final wish of a dying great-grandmother to taste ketchup before she passes on. No one broke in and found only a 25 ounce bottle of ketchup to sell on the black market. So where is it?

For this scrupulous soul, it’s a disaster: I took a poor family’s ketchup.

Let me go one worse: what if I already donated the other bottle? That’s the worst case scenario because if it’s already donated, I’ll never find the bottle. Meaning, I’ll never be able to make this right. 

(Please, those sane among you: don’t point out that if I already donated it, there’s no wrong to make right. You’re making sense. In general, I don’t.)

In short, I’m in a monumental amount of spiritual trouble here that can only be resolved buy purchasing more ketchup.

Except that then, I’ll feel like I’m “behind” by a bottle of ketchup.

Doomed, I tell you. Totally doomed.


  1. whiskers

    Sweetie, while I realize in your mind you feel you’ve done something wrong, please take a deep breath and come back from around the bend. Ketchup is a) not that expensive, so I have faith that you will buy another bottle and make it right without resorting to buying another two pack (therefore, you will NOT be behind a bottle…), and b) not very large in the importance of things, food-wise. (Despite what Reagan said, it is NOT a vegetable).

    Frankly, saying you still owe one even if you already donated it is like saying that if you don’t remember eating a piece of pie, you can have the one that’s left because food you don’t remember eating doesn’t count. Yet it will still go to your hips because you already ate it, right? So the donated ketchup will still go on your karma. That being said, I hope you do find it. There is nothing worse sometimes than not being able to find something you KNOW you have.

  2. AnotherFaceintheCrowd

    First things first, your understanding of giving being not about what one *wants* to give but what the recipient can genuinely use is head and shoulders above most charitable giving, religious or non-religious. It’s one of the things I find criminal about charity.

    Don’t know, don’t care what the tally is — what would matter is either quitting or making commitments you’re unable to honour. As far as meeting needs is concerned, condiments like ketchup come pretty low down the list of things to worry about. 🙂 Now if you were talking about a filled prescription that you were supposed to drop off, that’d be a whole ‘nother ball game.

    Good luck with finding the ketchup.

  3. AnotherFaceintheCrowd

    Oh, any chance of a link to the article that so changed your mind? I’d love to read it.

  4. philangelus

    I was between 12 and 14 when I read the article. It was in Catholic Digest. I would have no clue how to find it at this point. But I do remember how *angry* the woman was at the selfish clods who’d donated all this crap, only it was herself who had packed the box.

    You two are making sense, and stupid neurotic guilt doesn’t make sense. 🙂 Overall, if I’m thinking logically, I know that my bottle of ketchup wasn’t going to end world hunger or summon Christ for the final coming. It was actually just an afterthought while I was at the store: oh, two bottles is the same price as one bottle, so why not just donate the extra one?

    But overall, this weblog is for two purposes: to make you guys laugh, and to help me not take myself so seriously. If I can do both at the same time, more’s the better. 😉

  5. ivyreisner

    Knitting for Muslim countries always throws off my litmus test, and I’m never sure what to do about that. My test is that, if, after I’m more than halfway done with the project, I keep trying to rationalize how I can keep it, it’s good enough to send. If I don’t, I should probably frog it. Well there is something with Islam and green, so those projects keep asking for green things. I hate green. The colors I’d choose are too garish for the people who would receive it, and the colors the projects want are too drab for my taste. So I knit what the recipient would enjoy, but it throws me.

    I wonder if something hid the ketchup on you for some reason. That would be odd.

  6. philangelus

    Ketchup-eating demons?

    It actually hurts when the food pantry asks for canned veggies. My policy is never to donate something I refuse to eat myself. And canned veggies, for the most part, come in under that rubric. I end up donating canned corn because that’s the only one I can deal with.

    Or, heaven forbid, they ask for Spam. Something I’ve never fed my family. I close my eyes and buy it, but with the fervent hope that God won’t hold it against me. 😉

  7. cricketbeautiful

    I usually take the easy route and donate money. They can buy fresh food in bulk with it, so the dollar goes farther, and the food is healthier. Not to mention that I get a receipt for my taxes, so the government ends up “matching” it.

    I look forward to hearing when and where you find the missing bottle.

  8. Deb

    The fact that you take the time to donate regularly, and donate food people can actually eat, negates whatever transgression this may be.

    And, yes, God does have a sense of humor. Trust me. I spent the day at the zoo.

  9. Scott

    Hopefully, you’re not eating ketchup in your sleep 🙂
    Don’t worry. Be deliriously happy.

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