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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
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So This Is Christmas

Nothing says Christmas quite like a bum sweating under an overpass in mid-July. Because the same exact bum starts getting attention, and more importantly sees an up-tick in cash donations, come December. Seeing a guy begging change in the sweltering depths of summer but knowing his luck will turn when the calendar flips to the last month of the year, I can't help but think of lighted trees and plastic charity.

This is precisely what I don't understand about this time of the year. It seems that until the Thanksgiving dishes are cleaned and put away people act like it's a chore to help those less fortunate than themselves.

But as soon as the turkey platter gets put back in the cupboard and uncle Ned is drunkenly berating the Cowboys secondary, everyone starts acting like it's okay to be generous. Not just okay, but generosity seems to become ingrained in people.

The hypocrisy of the Christmas spirit is most obvious when it comes to the homeless.

Eleven months out of the year homeless men and women stand next to off-ramps, under overpasses and at downtown intersections all over America. They hold up cardboard signs asking for change for any number of reasons. Eleven times out of twelve these people are either the subject of scorn, or are outright ignored.

Then Christmas comes around, and all of a sudden people are rolling their windows down and giving out single bills, change, best wishes, food. By mid-January the windows stay rolled up, drivers' eyes stare straight ahead, and everything goes back to what it was.

I don't want to make it sound like I perform 30 hours of charity work a month at the local soup kitchen. I don't. But I also don't wait until December to start giving out change near the bus station.

The Christmas spirit. Goodwill towards your fellow man. It's nice to see this time of year. But it would be better to see that in March too. And July. And October.

Just ask the guy asking you for a dime. I'm sure he'd agree.

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