Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Face of Christmas

Thought for the day:  People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.  [Sheila McKechnie]

 You can't see my face, but I still have one.
Are there any homeless people in your town? Do you ever pass them when you're walking down the street? Maybe see them sleeping on a park bench or under a slab of cardboard? Do you... see them? I mean, really see them?

Most people don't, you know. Most don't look at their faces, and don't think of them as real people. As individuals. It's much easier to dismiss them as a faceless and nameless group of... what? Unfortunates?

A castaway in the sea was going down for the third time when he caught sight of a passing ship. Gathering his last strength, he waved frantically and called for help. Someone on board peered at him scornfully and shouted back, "Get a boat!" [Daniel Quinn]

Is that the kind of disdain society shows the homeless? I'm ashamed to say it, but all too often, it is.

Last month, a homeless man who's been wandering the streets of Atlanta since March was featured in the newspaper. His story started with him doing what he does every day... digging through dumpsters for something to eat.

Well, he found a wallet in one of the dumpsters. A Frenchwoman's wallet... and it contained her ID and credit card. This homeless man... this man named Joel... was determined to make it right for that tourist, so he walked from hotel to hotel, until he found where she was staying. At the luxurious Omni hotel, he turned the wallet over to the desk clerk. When the clerk asked for his name, Joel gave him a fake name. What difference did it make? He was... nobody.


But he wasn't nobody to the hotel manager. Based on Joel's picture taken by the security camera, people hit the streets until they found him... and brought him back to the hotel. There, he was given five hundred dollars and a week's stay, complete with free room service and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.


Joel was much appreciative of the shower and bed. He also received new clothes, a haircut, and new-found dignity. He also got a lot of publicity. Other people sent money and gifts to him, and he got several job offers. He was the homeless man who'd done the right thing. He was the homeless man with a background story... the homeless man with a face. With a name...


And a family, a family that had been trying to find him for the past decade. His deceased father's long-time girlfriend and two half-brothers flew to Atlanta to reunite with him. They all had Thanksgiving dinner together. Then the family left. Went back home to their lives.

Joel's story certainly doesn't end there, but that's the end of the newspaper coverage. What happened to him when he left that luxury hotel? Did he go to Alaska, like he said he wanted to do? Did he get the medical and mental help he needed? Will he be able to hold a job this time? Can he get back on his feet... and stay there? Will he ever see his family again?

Joel's short time in the limelight brings up a lot of questions. Like, what does it say about decent society that it can be so insultingly surprised that a homeless man did the right thing? After all, no matter what his current circumstances, how can we justify jumping to the automatic assumption that he isn't a kind and caring soul, and a decent man with concern for other people?

I mean, I don't think I'm alone when I look at the homeless person or the psychotic or the drunk or the drug addict and see their baby pictures in my mind's eye. You don't think they were cute like every other baby? [Dustin Hoffman]

Hungry not only for bread — but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing — but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks — but homeless because of rejection.  [Mother Teresa]

 I also can't help but wonder if this time of year... this glorious time of Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, and joy to the world isn't the real reason Joel got the royal treatment for a week. Do you think he would have been treated so well in the middle of  July or August?






Have you ever wished people were as loving and caring year-round as they are during this time of year? Wondered why the smiles and laughter aren't as heartfelt, and the hugs as warm, in March as they are in December? Why you don't get a mountain of wrapped presents every day, instead of just one measly time a year? (Only kidding about that one. Just checking to see if you were paying attention.) Anyway, Christmas is fast approaching. Anticipation builds, and as we all prepare to celebrate, I'd like to share an excerpt from Keeping Christmas, written by Henry Van Dyke:

There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that men and women are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own up to the fact that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same home with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front of you so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open---

Are you willing to do these things, even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas. And if you can keep it for a day, why not always?
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                                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

If you light a lamp for someone, it will also brighten your path.  [Buddhist saying]

83 comments:

  1. The story of Joel is extremely touching, and it goes to show that an act of kindness can have an enormous, long-lasting impact. I absolutely do wish that people would keep the spirit of Christmas in their hearts year-round. Unfortunately few do, but - - - what the heck - - I can always hope for happy endings.
    "God bless us, every one!"

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    1. Yes, it never hurts to hope for happy endings, but sometimes we have to do something to nudge things in that direction. I hope Joel got the nudge he needed to have a long-term positive impact on his life.

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  2. I wish that Joel would be/could be treated with respect all year round.
    Yes, we have homeless people here too. And they need the same things we all do, and often receive so very little, while others (me included) have so much more than is needed.
    Sad and bad.
    And I do what I can.

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    1. Me, too. One of my wake-up calls came when I was volunteering at a soup kitchen downtown, and a young woman asked if we had any sanitary napkins. We'd never even thought about that particular need in the homeless community until then.

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  3. There are homeless here, as well as working poor - the many young families that struggle - children go to school hungry and with inadequate winter clothing. This week one of our highest government ministers said, for the record, that he didn't think it was his responsible to feed his neighbour's children. He has since apologised, but I am skeptical - political expediency is a great motivator. We are ALL responsible for our neighbours' children.
    Thanks for a timely and thought-provoking post.

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    1. Sadly, I think there are people in government all over the world with that sort of attitude, and making apologies for being heartless doesn't suddenly give the scoundrels warm fuzzy hearts.

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  4. This is food for thought and then some. We had a lot of homeless people in Florida, and I helped often. We don't see any homeless people where I live now (up north, in the country) but I do admin. work at the shelter in the next town over (volunteer). I'd work w/the people too but you have to have training first, so I go where they tell me, thinking something is better than nothing.

    You're right about all year round ...people are nicer this time of year. :)

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    1. Good for you. (And for all the people you're able to help.) I used to work closely with people in need through numerous programs, and if you think you'd like to work more directly with them, too, I say go for it. The training isn't always that time-consuming or rigorous, but the rewards are endless. But you're absolutely right: something is definitely better than nothing. And not only are you making a real difference, but you're setting a good example for your children, too.

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  5. Awe Susan, I really enjoyed reading this, it is so true that we as a large collective people rush to judge another person on their looks but usually shunning and ignoring them... That is pretty sad... I did have a laugh about the one measly day for gift exchange... hahaha... I took that as kidding immediately :)

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    1. Yeah, it is pretty sad, but I haven't given up hope that things will eventually improve. Surely, society should be more "grown up" by now.

      HA! Picked right up on the one measly day part, huh? Guess that means you were paying attention... :)

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  6. Homelessness could happen to any of us - life deals us cards and some of us have crap cards. Which makes it essential that those us with the Kings and Aces look out for those who haven't. I long for the day we forget about winners and losers and realise we all want the same things - enough to eat, shelter from the rain, and people around us to love and who love us.

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    1. Yes, it could. "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

      Me, too, Jo. I honestly think society will eventually rise to that level, but I hope you and I are still here to see it.

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  7. We of course have homeless people right here in Perth, some of whom have no choice other than to live on the street. There are not enough places where they can go and still keep their self-respect without being made to feel they are looking for handouts. I was so fortunate to have 2 wonderful people adopt me so no home problems and, apart from smoking, I was never dependent on drugs or alcohol.
    Doesn't "keeping Christmas year round" come down to treating others as we would have them treat us?" I am not a religious person and yet I celebrate Christmas because I do believe that over 2,000 years ago a very wonderful man tried his best to teach people to be kind to each other. I find it worth continuing to celebrate this special day for that very reason. I just wish others would do the same and not use it as an excuse to spend far too much money and drink far too much alcohol thus endangering not only their own lives but the lives of others when they decide to get behind the wheel of their car. Let's keep Christmas simple by remembering that man from all those years ago. He wasn't homeless but he did live a very simple life.

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    1. Absolutely. "Keeping Christmas year round" is exactly the same as treating others as we would have them treat us. Doing that doesn't require adherence to any particular religion, either. Decency, love, and kindness flourish in the hearts of people all over the world, no matter what they profess to believe. (Or disbelieve.)

      You're right; it's a little preposterous that celebrations in the name of Jesus, who lived such a simple life... have become exercises in extravagance and overindulgence.

      Well said, Mimsie.

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  8. P.S. I haven't smoked since 1970 but that doesn't make me anywhere near perfect, believe you me. : )

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    1. Nope, it may not make you "perfect", but it sure makes your lungs a heckuva lot better. (I quite about five years ago.)

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  9. A version of this happened this summer/fall here. A homeless man found a traveling student''s backpack filled with money and turned it in. He too was celebrated. You bring up some strong points. I'm trying hard to keep the gate open.

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    1. I have no problem with rewarding honesty, but I remember a time when honesty was the norm, and not a cause for celebration, if you know what I mean. For society to express surprise when a homeless person demonstrates basic honesty strikes me as elitist and insulting.

      I'm working on my gate, too.

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    2. I remember a time when honesty was the norm too and in this one instance I wish we could turn back time, or at least return to the honesty is the best policy way of life. We are over run with criminals and their nefarious activities, the prisons are so full some are being released on good behaviour bonds and of course they don't behave in a good manner, but revert to the only manner they know. Society is disintegrating.

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    3. It's not the known criminals that bothers me nearly so much as the so-called "upright citizens" who seem to think dishonesty and cheating are acceptable.

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  10. I work with the homeless and poor. You would think that would would be depressing but it is far from that. What I see are the faces of people who can come to us and find dignity and friends. What I see is the kindness and generosity of the community. Our shelves are stocked more during the holidays, but we have many people who contribute all year round. This year we had a constant supply of fresh produce because so many people (and many children) put in raised garden beds and shared with us the fruits of their labor. I am inspired by all the kindness that people show for those who are going through difficult times.

    The poor and lost will always be with us, but so will those who care.

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    1. One of the things that always struck me when working with the homeless and poor: once they get back on their feet, many of them later return so they can "repay" the help to others. The regular cook at the soup kitchen used to be homeless. Women who'd had to rely on help to feed their children and pay their bills later came back to donate food and money.

      Yes, you're right; there will always be those who care. (And I'm not at all surprised that you're one of them.)

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  11. Wow Joel's story is incredibly inspiring to me and it really makes me feel incredibly emotional. You're right - why are we surprised that he did the right thing?? It's so sad how we de-humanize the homeless.

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    1. I'm glad this story got to you. Society's de-humanization of the homeless and poor has bugged me for a long time.

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  12. I know we have homeless folk here in Guelph Ontario...I know because the shelters advertise on cold nights and the food bank is always short of food and the drop in centre continues to operate....but I have never seen any of them. Not only are they nameless and faceless...they are invisible. We go about our daily business rushing here and there, spending money on trivial things and we don't see them. Our heads are down and we are focused on our own small lives. Thanks for the reminder to lift my head, open my eyes and really...really...see.

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    1. In Atlanta, politicians just WANT the homeless to be invisible. They don't deny that we have homeless people here; they just don't want tourists to see them. If they could sweep them under the proverbial rug, they would. If politicians would only learn to look at the homeless as "people" rather than as a "problem", maybe we'd make some progress.

      Well said.

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  13. I heard about this story -- although not about the reunion with his family. Yesterday, I read another story about a young entrepreneur who gave a laptop to a homeless man and taught him how to write code. The homeless man then wrote his own software app.

    Every homeless person is a unique person with an individual story no matter how much the passersby might prefer to think of them as nameless and faceless and invisible.

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    1. I hadn't heard about the entrepreneur and the laptop. That's pretty neat. Knowing how to write code may change that other man's life forever.

      Yes. Absolutely. It's astounding how many homeless men are decorated military veterans.

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  14. Any one of us could end up on the street
    thinking we are beat
    I see a few around here
    They are usually nicer than many near

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    1. Yep, could happen to you or I
      Or anyone else who's passing them by.
      Maybe that's why we're afraid to see them...
      It's scary to think that we could be them.

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  15. Hmmm. An update about Joel would be interesting. I do hope he sorted his life out, and that his family haven't just forgotten about him again.

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    1. Yes, I hope the newspaper does a follow-up so we know how he's doing.

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  16. >>... I mean, I don't think I'm alone when I look at the homeless person or the psychotic or the drunk or the drug addict and see their baby pictures in my mind's eye. You don't think they were cute like every other baby? [Dustin Hoffman]

    SUSAN, that's an interesting quote, particularly to me at THIS time of year. Because when I see those people, it's not baby pictures I think of, but THIS thought that I have: "That person was once a little kid who believed in Santa Claus".

    And I don't mean that I have that thought just in December months; that's the thought I have ALWAYS had ALL YEAR LONG when I see those people. Somehow it's the Santa Claus angle that reminds me of their real underlying purity - the purity that God sees in us all.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy, this is such a sweet comment. I love that you see beyond the gritty exterior to the inner beauty. It's nice for you to let your softer side show. 'Tis the season...(Thanks for making me smile.)

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  17. lovely thoughtful post. It is true - if we all had Christmas in our hearts every day of the year, perhaps the world could be a better place. Great story of Joel. We all need to keep a candle lit.

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    1. Yes, it would definitely make the world a better, kinder place.

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  18. Hi Susan .. Sheila McKechnie was a director of Shelter here, the homelessness and housing charity ... she tragically died very young of cancer in 2004. I really must get out and do more ... I do give, but that's not the same thing .. and now we have so many homeless ..

    I hope Joel's family were able to give him some more support and love, so he didn't need to disappear completely again ..

    You certainly have given us some prods here ... thanks for posting - makes me sit and think some more ... and we need to light those candles for others .. thanks - Hilary

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    1. Giving comes in many forms. Whether we give of ourselves and our time, or our support comes in a monetary form, both ways matter, and both ways are always needed and appreciated.

      Me, too. And I really hope the newspaper runs a follow-up story about him, too. A happy ending kinda story.

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  19. Unfortunately I think you have a good point about the attention this story would have received if it had happened in July. Probably not the same at all. I do wish the Christmas spirit would exist all year round.

    This is a very touching story. I do hope Joel is able to stay in his family's lives now and also get himself on solid ground.

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    1. I wonder if the hotel manager would have gone out of his way to find and reward Joel if he'd returned the wallet at any other time of year.

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  20. I think a lot about homeless people ever since my migraines got so bad and I lost darn near everything. My job. My house. My self-esteem. Yeah, it all goes when you are so sick that you can't take care of yourself. And it occurred to me in an extremely intimate way how fortunate I was to have parents willing and able to take me in. What if they had already passed? I would have been looking at homelessness. That is a huge wake-up call right there. So many people who are homeless got that way because they are SICK. They lived productive lives until they couldn't do it anymore. And they didn't have a net to catch them. It sickens me beyond belief the number of people who live on government assistance who COULD work but CHOOSE not to versus the people who are now homeless because they are so sick they aren't even capable of filing out the paperwork to ask for help. How has our system failed so completely???? Me... I am blessed and I know it.

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    1. It sounds like "there but for the grace of God go I" is much more than a saying to you. You know first-hand how quickly a medical problem can make our so-called security collapse like a house of cards. I hope the doctors are able to relieve your migraines.

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  21. What a powerful post! It makes me truly aware of those people pushing shopping carts and what they need to have a good life. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad the story had an impact on you.

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  22. That's quite a story, Sus. I like very much to read about a good deed that gets it proper return.

    Thank you for your friendship in 2013. I wish you and your beautiful family the happiest of Christmases and a peace-filled and joyful end to the year!

    With love,
    -Suze

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    1. Thanks, sweet Suze. I'm glad you liked it.

      Right back atcha, kiddo. I wish you and your family a beautiful Christmas and all the best in the new year. I'm so glad we got to know each other this year.

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  23. People turn their heads and walk on by,
    Tell me it it worth just another try?
    Light of the world, shine on me, love is the answer
    Shine on us all, set us free, love is the answer

    -Todd Rundgren


    Those words were written in 1977.

    As a society, we have become more self-absorbed and shut off since then.

    People (myself included) need to take more time tot remember what compassion means.

    Larry

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    1. Talk about coming up with the perfect lyrics to complement this post! Great choice. Something tells me that these words... as well as compassion...already resonate within you.

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  24. Ah, beautiful. I must keep Christmas. I wish Joel's family had taken him home with them. I have written a bit on my blog about the homeless people in Jacksonville. I'll probably write about them again. The situation is heartbreaking.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Something tells me you already keep Christmas all year round.

      Yeah, I thought it was a little strange for his family to fly in to see him for the first time in a decade, and then take off again. Hopefully, they'll stay in touch. It is heartbreaking.

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  25. I agree with you, Susan. It breaks my heart to think that there are people who are homeless.
    The "homeless" is an inconvenient matter to many people who prefer to ignore the subject altogether. There is a tendency in our society to believe that some kind of "justice" exists in the world: a lie that lives in the minds of thousands of people.
    I wrote a couple of short stories with homeless characters and I'm still trying to get them accepted. As I said, this is an inconvenient subject that many people choose to ignore. Thank you for writing about this.

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    1. Yes, you're right. "Inconvenient" is a good word. Too many people simply don't want to be bothered, and they smugly believe that they're "above" such circumstances, but the sad truth is, it could happen to anyone.

      Good luck with your stories. I hope they get accepted.

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  26. God bless Joel--& you!! You've given us a lot to think about.

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  27. good piece. I think about this issue often. We have several spots where the homeless/jobless hang out. My daughter creates blessing bags (gallon ziplocks) full of needed items and when she sees someone, she gives them a bag. We never know who is genuine, who is scamming, but that's not our call. God knows every heart and he will sort that out. On my facebook page this month, I'm suggesting simple things we can all do to be more outreaching this holiday - a suggestion a day. I want to do this in my own life. But, for the grace of God, there go I. If you'd like, visit my blog, it will direct you to my fb page. You might like to join in. :-)

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    1. What a terrific idea! Your daughter is a special young lady to do such a thoughtful caring thing. You're right; it isn't for us to judge. Your daughter's heart is in the right place, and that's what matters.

      I'll do just that. Sounds great! Thanks.

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  28. The homeless are individuals and I'm interested in their individuals stories and who they are. I believe too many people lump them in categories and then turn away from them. I wish people were kind to them and others all year round.

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  29. I just moved to Portland, Oregon this month and here, you definitely see the people. In Oklahoma we never saw them, and yet they were there in the brush off the freeway or in the trees by the river. It is difficult to see a man in a wheelchair in the middle of a busy street or another passed out at the door to Safeway, but better they are here with us than hidden away as if they are not real people. The thing is so many are ill -- from addictions or schizophrenia or another mental health disease. What's sad is how the mentally ill are treated as bad people rather than sick people.

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    1. Rubye!!!! How wonderful to hear from you again!

      You're right; so many of the homeless are physically and/or mentally ill. Conditions and treatments for the mentally ill are better than they used to be, but it's shameful that they aren't a lot better than they are.

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  30. This was such a deeply moving story Susan! We do need to be more thoughtful of the human suffering that goes on in our own backyards. I'm glad that Joel got the attention he deserved; though it's a shame that his family left without him. I hope that this small step will help him on the road to a better life.

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    1. It's easier to pretend not to see them. Making eye contact makes "them" more like "us", and I guess that's just too scary for some people.

      Me, too. I hope this is just the beginning of a better life for him.

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  31. I hadn't heard this story. There's a lot going on here. A lot to chew on. No easy answers. Homelessness is a complicated issue and as you rightly notice, a week's stay in a luxury hotel and a quick visit with family is not alone going to turn this man's life around. There are so many more factors involved. I hope he continues to receive the support he needs, but also manages to help himself. He's got a long road ahead of him (and he's not alone!)

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    1. Yeah, there are a lot of factors involved, but let's hope this is the turning point where Joel's life starts getting better. He's a young man... 36, I think it is. Maybe knowing that some people DO care will serve as the impetus he needs to turn things around.

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  32. Dear Susan,
    a lovely, thoughtful post. When I read about the wallet, I thought: that's what happened to me, when someone stole my purse (I blogged about it) and then it was found by a bottle-collector (in Germany you get pledge (?) when you bring empty bottles back, so often homeless or poor people look everywhere to find some in trash baskets). He gave it to the bureau of a day-shelter for psychologically handicapped people - and I was so glad that I got my passport and driving licence back. The thieves had taken out the money, but the find of the bottle-collector saved me a lot of walks to public authorities. I was glad that I could give a good finder's reward to a person who really needed it (he was almost blind, and quite old). And the house where they help these poor people (also by giving them free meals) has a little shop - so I brought them clothes to sell, thus they earn money.
    But I understood your post: of course it would be a good thing to have Christmas spirit all over the year. Times have changed so much: nowadays we have a lot of beggars in the cities, and it is not easy to decide whom to give and whom not (you could not give everybody something, there are too many). I admire people who collect food from groceries and hotels and give it to the poor.
    Susan, I wish you a Merry Christmas! Britta

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    1. Dear Britta,

      I'm sorry your purse was stolen, but how neat that you could relate so well to this story. I'm sure the French doctor was happy to get her ID and credit card back, too.

      It's overwhelming if we look at how many beggars and other people in need are all around us, but it's like the story of the woman walking along the beach, where she sees hundreds of stranded starfish. She bends over and picks one up, and tosses it into the water.Then she bends over and picks up another and another, tossing each of them back into the sea. A man watching her snorts, and says, "You're a fool. You can't save all those starfish." "No," she says, "But I can save (toss) THIS one, and (toss) THIS one..."

      Britta, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, too.

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  33. You've made us all think and reflect with your post today, Susan.

    Lakeland has quite a few homeless people - and I think one of the reasons is that this city treats them relatively well. Whereas they are hidden and/or removed from sight in Orlando, they find shelters here.

    I used to think that homelessness was a result of extreme circumstances; but then, a number of years ago, a co-worker with a husband and two kids experienced a few turns of bad luck and found herself almost homeless. It made me realize that it may take only two or three unfortunate incidents to end up on the street or in a shelter.

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    1. (Sorry... I promise to make ya laugh on Friday!)

      Yeah, you're right. I'd never really noticed before, but I don't remember ever seeing any panhandlers or people who looked as though they might be homeless when we were in Orlando. I guess they're swept under the rug... or shipped over to Lakeland.

      That may be what scares some people into ignoring the homeless... the thought that there's such a thin line between making it... and not making it.

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  34. Our church supports a "feed the homeless" breakfast one Saturday a month. Different churches cover the other Saturdays. It a good thing, but I can't help wonder about the other six days a week.

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    1. I know what you mean. It's like the huge Feed-the-Hungry dinners held every Thanksgiving and Christmas. How about the days before and after Thanksgiving and Christmas?

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  35. I've always wondered why people aren't as nice to each other all year round. (like mother's day, why have just one day to say I love you mum?)
    I see the homeless around my city, sadly most of them are drunks or drug addicts, and I wonder what happened to someone's child to make this happen. Sadly too, many of them don't want a meal or any other gift, just money to buy more booze.
    Those that don't spend their life in a drunken haze, find comfort and friends, help too, at the shelters and church groups that provide a meal a day and a bed if there is room. At this time of year there are many, many places providing a three or four course Christmas lunch for the homeless.

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    1. I agree. Acts of kindness and love shouldn't be dictated by the date showing on the calendar.

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  36. Isn't it fantastic that we as a nation, can send truckloads of money to countries that wouldn't piss on us if we were on fire, but we can't take care of our own homeless people? What a great country.

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  37. I have a horror and loathing of 'days' (eg Xmas DAY; Mothers DAY; Valentines DAY; Election DAY) that have tacitly replaced the need to act like a normal human being for the rest of the year! (Although being from OZ, it's arguable we don't act normal any time!!!!) Sadly, the homeless aren't voters, there's no political mileage or TV news ratings in charity, so its up to us, ordinary people, to change things, and that won't happen unless we're reminded. Like you have. Thanks for a thought provoking post (I have long since given away the pumpkin bread-type posts!!!!) - I'll be back for more!

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    1. YES! I know exactly what you mean. It strikes me as utterly ludicrous when people act like jerks most of the time, and then lavish someone with gifts just because it's their birthday or some other "red letter" day. Big whoop. To me, it's much more meaningful to give a gift or do an act of kindness "just because" on any given day of the year rather than out of a sense of obligation just because the calendar says it's a "special" day. The most expensive gift given on Christmas doesn't touch me nearly as much as an inexpensive trinket or simple kindness on some random day of the year as a genuine expression of thoughtfulness and love.

      Sadly, your comment about the homeless not being able to vote is all too true. It's much too easy for the politicians to discount them.

      Coming back for more, eh? A real glutton for punishment, aren't ya?

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  38. Yes, we can aim to keep Christmas everyday, and many churches do just that, remarkably successfully. I hope Joel finds help and rebuilds his life, and that each of us is more kind and giving more often. Thanks for bringing this up.

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    1. Yes, many churches, synagogues, and other groups of caring people do a wonderful job taking care of those in need all year round. But unfortunately, the needs are far greater than what those organizations can meet.

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  39. Love that first quote. Sadly I think that sums up the way too many people think. And I've often wished the spirit of Christmas, 'goodwill toward ALL men' could last longer than a few weeks in December.

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    1. I like that quote, too. It'd be wonderful if the spirit of good will lasted year round, but that may be too much for us to expect. After all, the spirit of good will often doesn't last past the final "amen" of a church service.

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