This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 20, 2006 11:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was You read it here first. The next post in this blog is Yule rock out. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You said it

I've been combing through yesterday's many excellent submissions to our Comment Contest, and it's hard to pick one as winner-take-all. There were many great reads in there.

For example, Aaron B. Hockley had a great haiku for the day:

Six days left to go.
My shopping is still not done.
I'll cheat with gift cards.
In the limerick category, we had several good ones, but this verse from rr stood out:
The earth has turned on its axis
To a time when giving's a practice
Oh, the feeling that comes
When donating large sums
Is better than paying our taxes
Superinkygirl spoke for all of us when she observed:
Here's wishing you all a season filled with cheer and peace. We'll all start our fitness regimes on January 2nd, right?
Rickyragg got off a good one, with an assist from Betsy. Betsy bemoaned the fact that her household juggles all of the elements of the Judeo-Christian traditions:
We're in the 'if it's Tuesday, it must be Hanukkah' mode here today at the nominally-Christian mother's house. But later this week? My Jewish children will head to their Jewish father's house for Christmas.

Anyone have a recommendation for a good therapist? My kids are sure to need one someday...

To which Ricky responded:

May I suggest a rousing chorus of Oy Vay, Maria.

Speaking of which, Bill McDonald had a suggestion for a charitable beneficiary of our efforts:

[U]nless there's a foundation that can help Ricky Ragg, I'd pick the Salvation Army.
Christy wrote about her most valuable piece of luggage:
I, for one, will be having a very modern holiday. From Portland to Chicago to see dad for 4 days, then to SF to see mom for 4 days. I am 28 and still splitting holidays. One thing remains the same, though: the spirit of giving to those in need and those I love will travel from Oregon to the Midwest to California, undaunted by the airports and the airplanes.
Kevin Allman wrote in from Louisiana, where he sent along some excerpts from a post-Katrina N'Awlins poem about the night before Christmas:
"To all those who took in our downtrodden folks,
Or ferried them out in their flat-bottom boats!
To Tennessee… Texas… Jackson… Atlanta…
Our Baton Rouge brothers … and Lou-i-si-ana!"
I notice no Rudy steps up as their leader,
Yet something unseen guides this flock of believers,
A force that transcends rich or poor, black or white,
A light that can steer this brigade through the night.
In a twinkle they've finished the last of the ale
And they hoist their equipment, their masks and their pails:
"On, Comet! On, Borax! On, on Spic 'n Span!
"Come (Yule) Tide and Cheer! Come, All, let us plan!
Up, Mildew! Off, Mold! Out, out, Toxic Waste!
Come, Shout! Away, Wisk! Come, let us make haste!
To the top of the water mark! Up, past the stair!
Let the City that Care Forgot know that we care!"
Then to Lakeview, Gentilly, Chalmette and the East,
Away they all marched to a Zydeco beat.
Ere they rose past the tarps, I heard a voice say
"Merry Christmas-and Laissez les bon temps rouler!"
Brandon sent in an update from the famous Peacock Lane display in Southeast Portland:
[M]ost interesting and curious of all is a "naughty" display featuring characters from the 60s-era Rudolph stop-motion specials. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but the house's Abominable Snowman has two bright pink lights for nipples and two others for his, er, "boy parts." I guess it was cold out there last night but maybe they should give him a scarf or something to cover those up.
Orbb Taranis posted the lyrics of a song about Christians and pagans coming together to celebrate their respective holidays. Included were these lines:
The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, "Is it true that you're a witch?"
His mom jumped up and said, "The pies are burning," and she hit the kitchen
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, "It's true, your cousin's not a Christian"
"But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere"...

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, "Really, no, don't bother"
Amber's uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father
He thought about his brother, how they hadn't spoken in a year
He thought he'd call him up and say, "It's Christmas and your daughter's here"
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve
Saying, "Can I be a Pagan?" Dad said, "We'll discuss it when they leave"

Dan Petegorsky dusted off a forgotten verse from "America the Beautiful":

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!
Swankette stopped me in my tracks with this story:
My holiday memory is also a shameless plug for my charity-of-choice.

My older brother is mentally ill and has been, at times past, homeless on the streets of Portland. As such he has taken advantage of many of the social services available in Portland.

One year, when he wasn't homeless but nearly so, I had picked him up for the trek to our parents' house for holiday cheer. He had already made the rounds at a couple of places to fill his belly and get some gifts from the generous people of Portland. He implored me to stop at Pioneer Courthouse Square on the way to Sherwood in order to partake of the Christmas Feast provided by the Girl Scouts. Given that we were on a way to a Christmas feast of our own, I didn't allow it, but that memory stuck with me.

I was both very thankful that there were such services out there for him, and very aware of the fact that come holiday time the services were much more available than at other times of the year. And so as much as I love charity at the holidays, I work hard to make sure it lasts throughout the year.

The one organization that did the most for my brother during those lean times was Sisters of the Road, which is one of the most fabulous grass-roots organizations I know of. So that is where I would ask for the last bit of funds to be directed.

Rosanna Galluccio, who runs a newsletter dedicated to "Holiday Love and Madness," forwarded something that had been submitted to her:

Most of us, when we reflect upon Holiday memories we look in the deep recesses of our mind, and begin to hear the joyous sounds of our childhood, the smells of the Yuletide kitchen, and the sights of family members past. This holiday I am looking forward to Holiday memories yet to be.

This year I am not only spending it with my two children, who have been my "raison d'etre," but with my fiancé and her two children, both infants. This year will be a blended holiday. This will be a Christmas to gap years and generations. You see, twenty years ago I dated the girl who would, decades later, become my fiancé. And now we can share this day of rejoicing with a teenager longing to be an adult, a "tween" caught in between the childhood dreams of Christmas and the commercialism of Xmas, and two infants yet to see the pageantry, majesty and wonder of Christmas.

So my Holiday memory this year is not a longing of Christmases past, but a longing for Christmas yet to be.

The last word came from Ron Ledbury, who wrote of the two "stray men" in his neighborhood, and a person who has given shelter to one of them:

I was wrestling today with the notion that giving was for the benefit of the giver, for their own reasons. I just could not put it into words...

I would of course like to mock non-profits for their claim of offering tax breaks to donors and instead direct any extra to the little lady that has given refuge to Stray Man 1, without the offer of any tax deductibility on donations. Indeed, without donations other than her own. There are some things that the tax man need not know about. Be a rebel; with a cause.

So as you can see, I've narrowed the contest down to "just" 14 entries. Which of these authors should be the winner, and get to designate where $250 of our contributions go? Maybe you can help me decide...

Comments (12)

I vote for Swankette. She had a great comment, and Sisters of the Road is indeed a wonderful organization. More than just providing a warm meal, and a place to pick up mail, they provide community and a place where all people will be treated with respect. Sometimes the chance to sit in peace and feel a little human dignity is almost more important than the warm meal. That in itself is an immeasurable service to the people of Portland.

Agreed, but remember, I'm supposed to be judging the comment, not the cause. Still, Swankette left a good one.

I'm divided between Swankette and Ron Ledury. Each have compelling stories and I can't decide which one to choose. But I can narrow it down that far.

Swankette's the one that gave me a lump in the throat.

Swankette. But then, I'm biased.

As a far too regular visitor, I have to vote for Ron's story. It's theme just seems to better fit the venue here. It's real, it's personal, and it describes actions (Ron's and the neighbor lady) that once were more common. Also, the "non-profit" angle strikes a chord with me.

Nothing against Sisters and the others, but all the organized charities tend to enable us to look the other way when confronted with the Stray Man.

...and Bill, the Salvation Army does help me...

the bells...

the bells...

Joyeux Noel(s)

Here's a vote for Ron.

As pithy comments go, I've gotta vote for "Oy vey, Maria".

But I'm twisted that way. ;-)

I was impressed with that one myself.

Tough call. I'm torn between Swankette and Ron too. "Oy Vey, Maria" is hysterical.


Being digitally challenged (among my other obvious failings), I shortened my screen name to rr one day and have randomly posted over both names. Sorry for the confusion. No sock puppet motivation, though.

The nuns couldn't teach me to type in grade school or high school, and a little industrial accident took out three of my favorite fingers 6 years ago, so now I'm a special needs typist.

that and the drinking, of course...

so thanks from both of us for the comment comments.

You're nuts, and so are you.

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