Friday, November 20, 2009

"Thanks,...But No Thanks[giving]....................."

Good Morning;

So it's that time of year again, when I am getting the same question up to a dozen times a day;.."What are you doing for Thanksgiving...(and soon to be: Christmas/New Years)?, Are you going to one of the free 'Holiday Dinners' sponsored by one of the charities?" The ones given by many churches, 'Our Daily Bread', Bea Gaddy's organization, even the city of Baltimore and some of the surrounding counties. I appreciate these well meaning groups and am grateful that they are out there doing this, and for many people this is a wonderful thing. But for me, and others I have talked to, (who are NOT the paranoid or delusional types), the atmosphere of forced gaiety and cheer, and at times the attitude of some of the volunteers, (NOT ALL!, by a long shot) but there are some whose self serving attitudes of...."you poor homeless wretch, aren't you grateful that I am here donating my precious time in such a visible manner, to be seen handing a plate of food to someone who I am unable to see the rest of the year,.....why are you not kneeling and kissing my ring.....".("And if I deign to give you a doggie bag and/or a charity bag of 'soap and socks'....don't forget to grovel..).
Please understand that the MAJORITY of the people who are there are truly and honestly compassionate and concerned, but there always seems to be that ONE person who is either a clone of Dennis Leary at his best/worst, or the epitome of the fur coated, martini in one hand, cigarette in a long holder in the other hand, arrogant and clueless, hated monster-in-law/step mother/mother superior aggregate depicted in the movies. {With the fake smile pasted on her face when everyone is looking}. {And for the evil head nun, substitute a crucifix and a well worn}. For the Disney animation fans like me, think any of the evil Queens or Cruella DeVille....LOL.

The sometimes palpable air of desperation that permeates some of these affairs leaves me feeling worse than when I came in. Have you ever been the only single person at a New Years Eve party when the countdown reaches Zero? Auld Land Syne takes on a whole new meaning doesn't it? That is a similar reaction to how I feel at some of these places. Watching people eat in a rush, sometimes because the operators of the dinner are trying to feed 'X' number of people in 'Y' number of minutes, and sometimes because the attendees are shoveling in the food as if they are afraid that it will be taken away from them, is not my idea of a festive meal. So, NO, I will not be going to a charitable dinner.

Now there is a big difference in the dinners given to feed the homeless and the 'Community Dinners' put on by churches for the poorer folks in their own community, and they also invite the homeless, but in most cases they are in/from the neighborhood. I went to one once and the whole atmosphere was 180 degrees from the 'do-gooder dinners', but...I was an outsider, except for the person who brought me I knew no one, nor any of the 'inside' jokes and stories.
I am much more comfortable just with me and a sandwich and a book, and maybe a bottle if I am in the mood. I am much more grateful for Rachel and Jenn and the Grandkids and, to simply be alive and not in someone else's control, [even depressed as I am feeling, and as f*ckin' broke as I am], than for the chance to eat turkey with strangers, in the basement of a church I don't go to, or some government facility with cops or security guards leaning up against the walls and making comments..'sotto voce'....HAH! the expense of the less fortunate...(sorry, but that is the 'Baltimore Truth').

When I was living in Florida, (NOT homeless, but alone), we used to have "STRAY PARTIES" on these holidays, where every single, (or couple), without family would have to latch onto another lost soul, homeless or not, to the house or apt. of whoever was hosting/organizing that year, eventually we decided to just use our bar, due to the size of the turnout and the availability of the kitchen. Every homeless person who came over the 4 years I was down there and involved with this said that it was the only time they felt the difference between humility and humiliation, and humbleness and being humbled. (And we had a very minimal screening process, it consisted of one rule...."You CANNOT attend if you are visibly and obviously drunk, stoned, or geeking out."....). Everyone else was welcomed in. (Not to say some of us did not LEAVE a little worse for!).
I wish I had thought more about this sooner, well, maybe next year, God willing, I'll be in a position to present rather than partake.
Allright, I'm outta time today, I'll be back on Saturday. I'm off for coffee, see you at Mt. Washington's Starbucks.......................Dave

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