Monday, December 28, 2009

Waiting for the New Year Baby

It never ceases to amaze me how this time of year when we are celebrating love and family and blessings that the first thing most people are anxious to determine is how much new stuff they can get to replace the old. New clothes or electronics or jewelry or even friends and employment. Often I'm at a loss when thinking about what to do with all of the old. Old toys. Old furniture. Old books. Even old boyfriends.

When we discard or replace all that is old in our lives we cannot discard some old relationships. Be they frayed or strained or tortuous or just plain unpleasant sometimes one cannot bring a new person in to replace an old. The old lingers like Lindberger and the faint scent of baggage and war wounds serve as a reminder that ex husbands and even ex in laws, if children are involved, never get tossed. They get compartmentalized in a more managable form but never actually leave. Take David Goldman and his son Sean. Is the Brazilian grandma, stepdad or half sister ever going to be replaced? Or will they be put into discrete blocks of time where contact is still necessary but limited?

Waiting for everything anew might be something we look forward to come New Year's eve. But some things and people will forever be old and familiar despite time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Angel for the Holidays

Recently a news report came out that New York came in dead last among all states on a "happiness" measure for its residents. Granted the depressed economy and crippling unemployment rate gives folks much less to be happy about this holiday season.

Which made me think about the purpose of Chanuka or Christmas or Kwanza or Ramadan or whatever year end celebration people engage in. The purpose is not to get up at 3am to line up in the dark of night while shivering in jammies waiting to get the limited supply of cheap electronics on sale. Nor is it to stuff one's cheeks silly at office parties or social gathering. Nor should it be about how much to buy or how many lights can be wrapped around a freshly chopped or synthetic tree.

Rather it should be a time to reflect upon how much was gained, lost or squandered during the year past. Friendships gained. Opportunities lost. Good will squandered. We all have had our share of one, if not all of the above. If we focus too much upon one at the expense of the others we lose sight on a true perspective. One single act of despair shouldn't overweigh a year's worth of kindness. Nor should a poor lapse in judgment destroy a lifetime of good deeds.

I chose to evaluate the relative progress of my personal year through the lens of an unexpected act of generousity. Presents from those we expect gifts from are welcome but hardly remarkable. We expect relatives to give to us as we give to them. Its the unexpected kindness that is the hallmark to end a tumultuous year. Today an Angel visited me at work and bestowed unto me a gift of velvet red cheer wrapped in a bow of peppermint candy. Unexpected, certainly a delight and to me a sign that despite the ups and downs of a challenging year, I have much to be thankful for this memorable Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

He's Still Blind and Cant See Me

I always thought it an amusing concept that prospective adoptive pet owners are screened, vetted and investigated within an inch of their lives before granted permission to bring home Fluffy or Spot. Yet the same rigorous standards go virtually out the door when someone signs up to receive a seeing eye dog. These service animals, who spend the remainder of their lives working for their owner, often never have the chance to have their plight and suffering documented partly because they're no longer viewed as pets and partly because their owners lack the capacity to see the depth of mistreatment.
Take for instance the gorgeous black Lab I see frequently on the bus leading his visually impaired owner about. He is yanked, shoved, batted about the face and have his paws cruelly stomped by a can whenever his owner moves about his bus seat and readjusts his weight or belongings. During the short twenty minute ride this snow battered day I saw the poor creature wince but not moan twice as the cane struck his tender nose and the environmentally correct bag of groceries rested on top of hid head. His collar got pulled half a dozen times as owner tried to shove the dog deeper into the well under the seat. Each time a straw paw stuck out it was swept back callously by the sole of a dirty sneaker.

I wonder- would the animal police consider this the abuse of a pet or what a service animal should learn to tolerate? After all, he is fundamentally a sweet Lab meant to be cherished and loved.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Overreaction Kills Santa

The US Postal service announced new safety measures for its Operation Santa program so comprehensive that only 35 stations have decided to participate this year.

Upon receiving a letter from a child the service will shred the envelope, photocopy the letter, redact personal info and then put it out for people to select to fulfill the child's Holiday wish.Admirable and heroic that participating stations are taking precautions to shield children from sexual predators.

Only problem with the procedures is that secular "Santa" won't be able to find the child and give him/her the present. You see all personal info will be redacted. That means address, contact info, and anything likely to identify the child. And since they've shredded the envelope that presumably contains a return address, there goes that info.

In essence, overreaction to the potential breadth of sexual predators has killed Santa for thousands of children who need their wishes realized.

I'm not downplaying the dangers of sexual predators getting a child's personal information but what about the regular person who just wants to do a good deed? Overreaction may have killed Santa but draconian screening measures have killed the Good Samaritan. To get to read and fulfill a child's wish, one needs to wait on line, show 2 proofs of ID and only then will access to letters be granted. I can only imagine how anxious and excited the average New Yorker is at the prospect of waiting on a post office line to fork over ID before being allowed to do nice for a child.


Maybe this year instead of encouraging children to commit pencil to paper and write Santa they can just send him an email