During the holiday season I find I'm very susceptible to, "catching," the collective stress of others. The whole hoopla sometimes leaves me feeling Grinchy and it takes a jarring moment to remind me of what Christmas should mean. And I had quite the jarring moment this morning.
While walking to the bus I met up with a gentleman I often see around the neighborhood. He's usually on the move from stoop to more hospitable stoop with a steaming cup of coffee and I have to say that of all the local transient folks he's the second most pleasant (the Mayor of Lark Street being number one.) We always exchange friendly greetings and will sometimes stop to chat, like we did this morning. He said, "Merry Christmas, lady," and then, oddly, I thought, asked to see my hands, which were jammed into my coat pockets to prevent freezing. I laughed it off but he said again, "C'mon, let me see your hands. Are you married?" I answered (skeptically) that I was not but that I lived with my boyfriend and he rolled his eyes. "Awwwww. Alright, let's see those hands." He obviously wasn't giving up so I pulled them out of my pockets and held them up to him. When he saw (confirmed) they were bare against the cold he produced a brand new pair of insulated gloves, tags and all, and handed them to me. I fought back tears. I had nothing for him; not a dollar, not a dime, and he wouldn't accept the cigarette I offered so the best I could give* was the most heartfelt, "Merry Christmas," I've ever uttered. He smiled and said, "We all give what we can."
*Trust me, I'll be putting a small gift and card in my purse for the next time I see him.