Po Boy Views
Whiskers the cat waits at Jefferson Feed out on the highway for a forever home. Whiskers isn’t young, her chances are slim. At her last home, where she didn’t ask for a baby to be born, a toddler who decided to pick her up be the tail got scratched, now there’s a sign on her cage that says “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 that she loved and loved her in return. She cries.
Marcie, a single mother of two, takes a taxi to work; buses are on holiday schedule and she would be either an hour early or an hour late for her shift. ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ she reads on a passing billboard; “yeah right” she mutters to herself as they speed through cold and empty streets. She prays that she’ll make enough waiting on strangers to cover her expenses for the day. Her holiday won’t start until the afternoon, her kids will spend Christmas morning with the neighbors.
Malcolm (Mal), the taxi driver, is as quiet and introspective as Marcie on the way across town---Christmas quiet—reflecting on his life such as it is (a universal tendency during any holiday season). He should be home but he’d rather be out here; his Old Lady’s back is out again, his 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 has the suspicion that this is as good as it’s going to get.
Winston is picking up an extra shift this week and that’s okay with him. Winston is ‘retired’, meaning that the world thinks that he’s too old to employ and he can only pick up work part-time: buffet tender, roast carver, food 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 day. 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 shelter recognizing that she was a sweet, special dog, she would have gotten a dose of gas for the Holidays. Sophie doesn’t really remember that time; she’s got a good home now and to her a holiday is when everyone is at home and lovin’ on her and each other.
Junior sits in Orleans Parish Prison this holiday season. Everything about it sucks: the food, the wardrobe and the company that he’s forced to keep.If he’s guilty of mayhem, mischief, murder, maliciousness, mistaken identity or merely WWB (walking while black), that will be up to the authorities to decide after their days off. Meanwhile he marks time; neither Junior or his family can make his bail, especially this time of year, and to them Santa is just some fat white dude who favors other people’s children. Oh well, maybe they’ll put some cranberry 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 are poor. But they love each other. He sells his watch to buy combs for her beautiful long hair, while she sells her tresses to buy him an elegant chain for his time piece. Gift of the Magi; yadda, yadda, yadda.
Somewhere in Norman Rockwell’s world a nuclear family (mother, father, 2.5 children) sits down to a wonderful holiday dinner. Their rescue puppy and adopted tortoiseshell feline lie snoozing by the fire. Or, Grandma’s clasping her hands with joy at the front door as that GM station wagon full of children and grandchildren pulls up for a ‘real’ holiday with the ‘folks’, complete with snow on the ground, stockings hung by the chimney with care 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 condominium under the overpass. There’s no fire and visions of being rousted by the local screws disturb their dreams.
There are a million stories of holiday miseries and miracles. Miracles being in short supply these days, we’ve got to accept that no matter what our tribulations are, there are those that are less fortunate, ofttimes much less fortunate. Be at peace knowing that we’re all doing the best we can from our beginnings to our ends with the tools that we have been provided and that a modicum of empathy for our fellow creatures can go a very long way.
This holiday season, think about taking a little time out to ring a bell to give an angel its wings. Happy Holidays.