Tuesday, November 20

This year, listen to the words...

I bring you a story set to music. To Christmas music. Yeah, it's early, I know, but bear with me. 'Tis is a true story that just happened--this past Sunday, to be exact, the day of Toronto's ultra-fabu annual Santa Claus Parade.

Hubby and I were downtown, though not to watch the parade. We're Jewish, but that wouldn't stop us from watching; what did stop us was that we weren't with our kids, and the last thing we wanted was to line up on a sidewalk with hundreds of other people's kids :) Our teen was at her volunteer gig, and we'd just dropped our pre-teen off at a drama class, during which hubby and I usually take a nice long walk up Yonge Street, all the way from King to Bloor, then back down again.

The first leg of the walk went fine. But by the time we got back down to Yonge and Dundas, just north of King, the site of the beautiful Bay Department Store windows (and the point from which the Christmas music blared), the crowd lining the sidewalks was pretty thick. It was about 11:30 and the parade was starting at 12:30. So we decided to cut one street west and continue south on Victoria.

When we crossed the road, we had to navigate pretty carefully through the hordes of people on the other side. When we heard a familiar, "Buy a paper, sir?" we stopped. In Toronto, some members of the homeless community publish a small newspaper, which hubby and I always purchase when we pass somebody hawking it. (Hey, it's hard enough for me to get stuff written and published--I have nothing but admiration for the people who manage to get a monthly publication out when they don't even have homes!) I don't carry a purse with me on long walks, but hubby had change in his pockets (men always do), and he gave the sad looking, middle aged guy doing the selling a couple of loonies (Canadian one dollar coins). "Thanks," he said, taking a paper.

"No, thank you," the guy said. "I've been here for an hour and you're the first person who's stopped."

Hubby and I exchanged looks. He'd been there an hour. In the midst of a huge crowd attending a Christmas parade.

Don't They Know It's Christmas blared from the speakers outside The Bay.

So much for the holiday spirit.

As we walked on, I muttered to hubby, "If I put that in a book, an editor would say it's too cliched, too ironic, or too unbelievable."

We went on to discuss other depressing stuff, like how all the Bat and Bar Mitzvahs we'd been to recently (with the exception of one) had been more about parents outdoing each other party-wise than the actual morning synagogue service at which the child becomes an official member of the adult community and is informed of all the responsibilities that entails, including performing good deeds and giving to the needy.

When you're celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend (I won't be--the Canadian one's in October), or whenever you hear Don't They Know It's Christmas over the next couple of months, please take a moment to think about the sad homeless man futilely attempting to sell his newspaper to people at a parade supposedly celebrating a holiday about goodness, to the strains of a song about giving to others.




Alyson Noel said...

This is such a good and timely post! It's so sad how certain members of our society have become invisible, and yeah, I'm also totally over all the rampant holiday commercialism, and plan to donate to Heifer International in place of gifts.

Wendy Toliver said...

Wonderful post, Bev. And Alyson, I love donating to Heifer International. My husband even jokes about it, asking how many chickens or pigs or whatever I've bought this time. LOL!

Tis the season!

bevrosenbaum said...

I don't know about Heifer International--what is it??

Alyson Noel said...

Hey Bev-
It's a wonderful organization that provides livestock and training to families in need around the world for food and income.
You can see more at:

bevrosenbaum said...

What a fab idea--thanks for sharing!

Sara Hantz said...

Wonderful post, Bev. Thanks. And wow on Heifer International what a cool concept.

Barrie said...

How sad. I'm so glad you bought a paper. Here in San Diego we have lots of homeless because the weather is a little kinder. I've heard that other cities actually bus their homeless to us.

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