Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Humble Pie

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.

8 comments:

Jennifer said...

Oh. Wow. That was really sweet.

All people talk about is the bad but I really do believe there's more good than bad in the world.

Maybe that's my idealistic inner 10 year old, but I do.

Jack said...

Think you might have to bump him up to "most pleasant."

belleshpgrl said...

That is a wonderful Christmas tale.

TM said...

Last Summer sitting in Capitol Park was a fairly young woman with a cardboard sign that said "Please help me." She look like she was trying hard to imagine she was in another place in her life. I approached and extended a $20 bill. She didn't reach for it and looked rather taken back so I took her hand and closed her fingers around the bill. She very quietly said "Thank you". I didn't say it aloud but my reply was "No. Thank you".

kimelodic said...

That is SO sweet!

My favorite Center Squarer has to be Roland. You would most definitely know him to see, he's been in the neighborhood for years. He never asks for anything, with the exception of bottles maybe. Sometimes he'll sit and have a beer or cig with us on the stoop. One night over the Summer there was a concert at the Plaza. I saw him on his way to Price Chopper, bags of bottles in hand. On his way back he came by the stoop. He said he made $11 that night and wanted to buy me a donut from DD's for being so nice to him. I wanted to cry. Instead I wrote a song, "keep your strolling rollin, Roland"!

Kristi Gustafson said...

Awwww, Leigh. I love it.

Albany Jane said...

Aw, that's nice. Sometimes people just like giving to other people this time of year. You probably made his day too!

bpettit said...

Last summer a young couple stopped me and asked for bus fare, cause their phone was dead and their battery died in the car and they need to go to schenectady.. I totally blew them off, and they turned and started to walk away. Something made me say: "Wait" and I gave them bus fare.. I was sitting at the grind outside and everyone laughed at me.. about 5 min later they came back and returned the money cause they were able to phone home and some one was coming to pick them up!

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