I have always been a “nice guy”. Ever since I was a sensitive young kid, growing up in the Philly ‘burbs, internalizing the problems of the world, I knew I was sympathetic and caring.
Fast forward to 50+: Living in NYC, lost several loved ones, money problems, lots of stress, angry all the time, not as caring as I know I used to be.
I say all the time that President Obama makes me want to be a better man, and a better American. But I still have a petty, angry streak in me, and I hate when I see it in myself. I mean, I am not that bad: after all, I wrote an entire book on an altruistic-flavored form of Capitalism; something that destroys the uncaring cold selfishness of Ayn Rand, Romney, Ryan, and the entire modern GOP and its mythical magical job creators.
My wife, who lost her mom last year, and was dreading the Holidays, convinced me to give this year: to give thanks….and to give of myself. That giving has become more natural to me since I joined this site back in June of this year. The attitude here on dailykos always seems to be one of helping others and caring for others. The natural first response of so many of you is to volunteer, to give, to order pizzas for homeless shelters when that is all you can do from afar.
That type of thinking truly touches me, and changes me for the better. Sure, when my wife suggested giving away some of our Thanksgiving bounty it sounded wonderful to me, but I still first automatically looked over at the stack of Styrofoam plates bought at BJ’s (600 count for $15.99) to make sure we could afford it. I think of how we have had so little for the past few years: negative disposable income, from a bad economy, and from fulltime dedication to caring for a sick loved one in our home. But this year has been a little better, and we got the free 15-pound turkey at Key Food, for spending over 200. dollars there the past few months.
Of course we didn’t plan in advance, so were left with our good intentions to scramble for about 2 hours in our little apartment kitchen yesterday, 14 floors above Jamaica, Queens, plopping dollops of stuffing and mac n’ cheese, string bean casserole (yes, with those delicious French fried onion rings encrusting the top, AND mixed throughout), cranberry sauce; and big slices of ham and turkey on the Styrofoam plates, of which I used 3 to an order! We were scrambling to microwave them up, wrap them in foil, and place them in individual plastic bags, so we could get out and find needy people to give them to, before it got too late.
By the middle of this process, I was so into the giving, that I was in a great mood and happy to not even eat anything else at all, if we could find folks to give our delicious homemade food to.
We really started out very late with the best of intentions. We were worried that it was after 4pm, and whoever was homeless probably had a meal already, had a place to go to, but we figured we would try. We started out giving 2 plates to the maintenance guys in our building, who had to work on Thanksgiving.
A quick trip by the bus stops and the main bus station, and even the usual spot in front of the 99-cent store, revealed no activity, and nothing but quiet empty streets. We had about 12 plates full of warm goodness to give out. Finally, my wife spotted a man in the park. He had a shopping cart, and was laying out his possessions on a bench. I double-parked and she got out with one plate. She walked up next to him, placed the plate on the end of the bench, said “Happy Thanksgiving” and turned and walked back to the car. She had the loveliest smile on her face. She said the man said “thank you” to her. She said he had plastic bags full of cakes and donuts but no other real food with him.
We didn’t see anybody else in need on the streets anywhere, so we headed for the closest homeless shelter, only about 7 blocks away from us. The guard at the door was very courteous and happy to take our bounty, saying “the clients” are right inside and that he would put it on the table for them. To my happiness, my wife came back to the car to grab the other bag of plates.
“They’ll take them all?” I asked her, full of the selfless spirit now.
“Yes,” she said, with that same lovely smile I saw on her as she had turned from the homeless man in the park just a few minutes before.
My wife was glowing after she dropped off the last of the plates at the shelter and headed back to me in the waiting car.
She has never looked as beautiful as she did just then.
We are planning ahead to help out in some way, somewhere, at Christmas. And I can’t wait for the holidays next year!