The cornucopia, a goat’s horn overflowing with harvest. A symbol of our Thanksgiving holiday. A reminder to be grateful for what we are blessed with. Definitions of cornucopia refer to an abundance, inexhaustible or overflowing store, a copious or abundant source; antonyms include deficiency, inadequacy, insufficiency, undersupply.
The cornucopia has been a symbol since as early as the 5th century; it originated in Greek mythology. The god Zeus was raised on the milk of the goat Amalthea, whose horn was broken off while they played. Zeus, feeling bad, returned her horn to her with special powers that would grant any and all wishes for whoever had it. Abundance. Inexhaustible supply. The horn of plenty.
So the cornucopia is certainly nothing new or modern. It is one of those things that are steeped in history, tradition, stories and various versions of its use. And this Thanksgiving, many families will adorn their tables with a cornucopia, perhaps not thinking much of it. My wish this year is that many do; that people seriously reflect on all they do have, despite these hard times we’ve been experiencing, and be grateful for those blessings.
I also hope that the antonyms – deficiency, inadequacy, insufficiency, undersupply – are considered this holiday season. True, one should be aware of this all year round, but the holidays are always such intense seasons, the need becomes even greater. For every one thing I have to be grateful for, there is someone else who is without. And just acknowledging that doesn’t go very far, although it’s a start. There are so many ways to help, both people and animals, and most really don’t require much effort, time or money. But they mean the world of difference to those on the receiving end.
For pets, there will be, in fact there have already begun, holiday programs to help collect more funds, more supplies, for the shelters and rescues who are working so hard to find homeless pets a home for the holidays. Their need is great. It always is, but during these recent times, they’ve been bombarded with additional pets, and yet have struggled with less funds than in the past. Donations have been more difficult to come by. Yet these animals still need to eat, still need their vaccines, still require funding.
The major reason the shelters and rescues have been so bombarded by additional pets in the last 2 years, during this recession, has been due to owners who have been forced to turn their pets over (or turn them loose). No matter what your views on whether those who cannot afford a pet should have one, that doesn’t matter a lick if a family with a pet suddenly loses job, home, savings, car….and we all know how very real this nightmare has been these days. What does this family do? When they can no longer even afford to care for themselves, they know they certainly cannot afford care for the pet.
There are many more others, though, who are silently suffering great financial struggles. They may still be in their home, they may still even have a job; but with the rising expenses across the board in our daily life, and the cutbacks in income and benefits, they too are facing a serious decision. Many of these visit their local food pantries, among other options for help with their situation. These food pantries have seen an historical increase in patrons and need; it’s the sign of our times. They, like shelters and rescues, are in desperate need of donations of food and supplies or money. Many also accept pet food!
So add one more way that you can do something positive this holiday season, to help your neighbor and to help pets. Check out this link to the national Feeding America program, you can find where one is in your area, or check with your town. A friend of mine regularly donates to the local pantry. When she shops for her pets, she buys extra, and that goes to the pantry. Here in the Chicago area, grocery stores set up big bins for shoppers to drop in their donations right after checkout – what could be easier? There are even pantries that have sprung up specifically for pets. By enabling someone in need to obtain food for their pets, it helps them to keep their pet, it helps the shelters by lessening the number coming in to them, it helps us all. “It takes a village”. And we are all part of the village. And so are our pets.
If you think you can’t make a difference, consider 10 year old Zachary Wilson of Orlando, Fl. At 9, he visited a local shelter, saw pets crammed into cages, and was told by the shelter worker about how they were inundated with so many because of people who have had to give up their pets. He went home and started a pet food pantry! Through this past year, he has helped feed 10,000 pets, hopefully keeping them with their families. Zach, you’re my hero!
May there be a true cornucopia for you and your loved ones this season; may all our pets be blessed as well, and be warm, safe and fed in their own homes.