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Thanksgiving and ‘Cinderella Man’

Scott Gill is a teacher, coach, and author of “Goliath Catfish.” Follow Scott’s blog at puptentpapa.blogspot.com and read his “Front Porch Ramblings” at BlueRibbonNews.com.

(ROCKWALL, TX — October 30, 2017) It’s embarrassing to say, but I still get teary-eyed when I watch Cinderella Man, and the first time I saw Russell Crowe’s portrayal of the Depression Era boxer, James J. Braddock, I was a blubbering idiot. Angie elbowed me, whispering how I needed to get ahold of myself. I couldn’t help it, especially at the scene where Braddock is so broke, while his kids were sick and cold from their heat being shut off, that he goes in desperation to the club where all his former promoters and managers sat in their nice suits smoking expensive cigars, to beg them for money, anything to get the heat on.

Until you’ve been there, you have no idea the mixed feelings of humility and thanksgiving when help arrives.

While working on my Master’s degree at Dallas Theological Seminary, we struggled. We couldn’t rub two nickels together to get a dime; flat broke. There were nights of pancake dinners. The kids cheered for eating hotcakes, “two nights in a row!” while Angie and I wept in secret.

During that time, the seminary provided a ministry called Luke’s Closet where students could receive supplemental groceries donated by businesses and churches. The first time I went, I honestly felt defeated, less than a man for not providing—like James J. Braddock as he held his cap out, begging from table to table, hoping generosity would pay his overdue bill.

Week to week I stood in that line fighting through humiliation, yet breathing prayers of thanks because it was just enough to make full bellies. One Thanksgiving, I neared the breaking point. The kids had been sick and the doctor’s bills ate into what grocery money we had and although the food from Luke’s closet was a blessing, it wasn’t going to last.

However, something was better than nothing so after class I trudged over and filled out the little slip. An energy coursed through the workers that day, folks grinned from ear to ear. I handed the lady my paper and she announced that they didn’t have the usual frozen chicken, but they had turkeys, enough for me to get two! I had hit the jackpot, we inhaled the weekly chicken in minutes, but we could eat on a turkey for days, and two was a bona fide feast. I carried two bags brimming with Thanksgiving fixings and then some, and I returned home like a victor with the spoils of war.

It’s interesting how when we lack, our gratitude skyrockets, and, conversely, when we have an overabundance, we take it for granted. As parents we strive to give our kids the best, to protect them from struggle and pain, and I wonder if we’re robbing them. All my life I lacked for nothing but once it got tough, Thanksgiving meant more than ever. Which is why, when AMC or whoever runs Cinderella Man, I’m glued, well, until those pivotal scenes, then I quietly leave the room because once again, “my allergies are acting up.”

By Scott Gill of Rockwall.

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