Whiskers the cat waits at Jefferson Feed & Seed out on the highway for a forever home. Whiskers isn’t young, her chances are slim. At her last home, where she never asked for a baby to be born, a toddler who decided to pick her up by the tail got scratched; now there is a sign on her cage saying “Sweet and gentle, best for a home without children”. Today the store is dark and lonely, closed for a holiday. Whiskers doesn’t know what she did wrong; to deserve desertion by the couple she loved and who loved her in return. She cries.
Marcie, single mother of two takes a taxi into work; buses are on Holiday schedule and she would either be an hour early or an hour late for her shift. “Keep Christ in Christmas” she mutters as she prays that she makes enough waiting on strangers to cover expenses for the day. Her holiday won’t start until the afternoon, the kids will spend their Christmas morning at the neighbors.
Malcolm (Mal) the taxi driver is as quiet as Marcie on the way in, Christmas quiet; reflecting on his life (a universal tendency during holidays). He should be home, but, he’d rather be out here; his Old Lady’s back is out again; daughter’s run off with some no account and his boy is on his fourth tour-- getting shot at-- in some third world country. Mal didn’t figure that growing old would be like this and he has the feeling that this is as good as his world is gonna get.
Winston is picking up an extra shift this week and that’s okay with him. Winston is ‘retired’, meaning the world thinks he’s too old to employ and he can only pick up work part time; buffet tender; carver; runner; or in today’s case, omelet maker. So, Christmas for Winston will be spent standing in the dining room with a frying pan and a grin; he has no family to speak of, so it’s all the same to him.
Sophia was dropped off at the pound one Christmas holiday. She was pregnant, had heartworms and someone had felt it necessary to dock her tail. She went into kennel shock and if it hadn’t been for someone at the pound recognizing the fact that she was a sweet special dog she would have received a dose of gas for the holidays. Sophie doesn’t really remember; she’s got a good home now and a holiday to her is when everyone is home and they’re all lovin’ on her and each other.
Junior sits in Orleans Parish Prison this holiday season; everything about it sucks; the food, wardrobe and company he’s forced to live with. If he’s guilty of mayhem, mischief, murder, maliciousness or just merely WWB (walking while Black), it will be up to the authorities to decide after their days off. Neither Junior nor his family can make bail, especially this time of year; and to Junior, Santa’s just some fat white dude that favors other people’s children. Oh well, maybe they’ll put some cranberry sauce on his baloney sandwich and have some kind of Christian service on Christmas Day. Thank you, Lord.
“Della and Jim live in a shabby flat and they’re poor. But they love each other.” He sells his watch to buy her combs for her beautiful long hair while she sells her hair to buy him an elegant platinum chain for his watch: Gift Of The Magi; yadda, yadda, yadda.
Somewhere in the Norman Rockwell world a nuclear family (mother, father, 2.5 children) sit down to a wonderful dinner. Their rescue puppy and adopted tortoiseshell feline lie snoozing by the fire. Or; there’s somebody’s Grandma clasping her hands with joy at the front door as that GM station wagon of children and grandchildren pull up for a ‘real’ holiday with the ‘folks’ complete with snow on the ground, smoke from the chimney and presents under the tree. It’s possibly your life; but….
Somewhere at an urban mission the homeless shuffle in line for a hot meal before spending the night at some cardboard metropolis under the highway; no fire to warm their hands and visions of rousts by the local screws filling their dreams.
There are a million stories of holiday misery and miracles; miracles being in short supply these days, we gotta figure that no matter what our tribulations are, there are those who are less fortunate, oft times, much less fortunate. Be at peace knowing that we’re all doing the best we can from our beginnings to our ends and that a modicum of empathy goes a very long way.
This holiday season, think about taking a little time out to ring a bell to give an angel their wings. Happy Holidays.