Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

First off, dear reader, let me wish you warmest felicitations and good cheer on this Christmas week! It’s hard to believe that the Yuletide is nearly upon us. Ah, yes. That time of good will and joy and peace on earth has come upon us quickly this year. And amidst the panic of last minute gift shopping and burnt holiday themed goodies, I’d like to say something that is, quite frankly, rather sobering.

I am abandoning my usual shtick in favor of a true story. Be warned. It is kind of somber, but the message is one that I feel needs to be told, especially in a time when an event as beautiful and, dare I say it, magical as Christmas has been shaded with consumerism and general feelings of ill will.

The story begins ten years ago yesterday. My mother, who has the most uncanny knack for this sort of clairvoyance, was in Durham doing some last minute Christmas shopping with my aunt. They were on the way home when my mother spotted one of the many vagrants who stand in intersections advertising their bad luck. She pulled over and offered him whatever change she had.

“Why did you do that?” my aunt queried. “He’ll just spend it on liquor.”
My mother pondered for a bit and replied. “He probably will, but I was just thinking. Under different circumstances, you or I could be homeless.”

Perhaps it was the Carrington clairvoyance or just one of those things that happen occasionally, but at that moment our house was burning. Four days before Christmas and we were indeed homeless. Depressing thought, I know, but bear with me, for there is a moral to this story.

The outpouring of support we received in the days after the fire was quite simply amazing. People whom we had never met, complete strangers, were donating clothes, money, food, and even a place to stay and if strangers were this kind to us, you can imagine the love we received from family and friends. And at Christmas time, that love and support, that kindness from strangers and family alike was the most marvelous present we could imagine. My faith in humanity was bolstered that year. At the risk of sounding like a reject from a Hallmark movie, I saw the true spirit of Christmas.

So, dear reader, let me give you some unsolicited Christmas advice and thus end this maudlin post. Give thanks for what you have and rejoice that there are people who love you. And if you should ever see a vagrant in the crossroads I hope you will remember that under different circumstances, that could be you.

P.S. I think Mr. Tim Minchin sums up the sentiment nicely; check him out.

Don't worry, the snark will return next week. Alonzo is happy for the vacation.

Oh yeah, dead chuffed.

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