I guess youâ€™ve figured it out. The months of the year are my inspiration for this blog. You tune in and I give you my take on â€“ well, something about the month. Sometimes itâ€™s a stretch, sometimes not. But now itâ€™s time for the big one. December. Xmas. The holiday season.
So much to write about and so little time. Gifts. Holiday music. Horrid materialism which, if truth be told, would be relabeled miraculous generosity if I was the one opening a little blue box from Tiffanyâ€™s on Christmas morning. Be that as it may, Iâ€™m a writer and this time Iâ€™m not going to take the easy way out. I want to give you something to think about. I want my words to paint a picture that is eloquent in its simplicity, deep in meaning. In short, a blog that is unforgettable. I want to tell you a cautionary Christmas tale. It is true. I saw it with my own eyes.
We lived in Los Angeles then. Our families were still in the South Bay. With parents getting on, brothers and sisters spread out all over the country, we felt obligated to spend the Christmas holidays driving: Long Beach, Redondo and back home to Los Angeles more times that I could count.
Back and forth; forth and back. Nothing spectacular â€“ until two days after Christmas. The children were asleep in the back of the car. My husband was silent, tired of the freeways and cheer that had run its course. I sat beside him, my head resting on my upturned palm, thinking about nothing in particular. It was late afternoon and I would have nodded off too â€“ but then I saw her.
I sat up straight and touched my husbandâ€™s arm. I raised my chin. He looked. His eyes narrowed. We didnâ€™t wake the children. We didnâ€™t want them to see the woman standing on the off-ramp but we couldnâ€™t take our eyes off her. We passed her slowly. For a fleeting moment I wondered if we should stop. She looked so pitiful. I started to speak but my husband shook his head. He drove by. I swiveled in my seat hoping she saw that I, at least, sympathized. Perhaps she felt my interest. She turned to watch us. I saw the terror in her eyes. We could have helped. We didnâ€™t. She held up her sign. The words were burned into my memory.
Spent too much at Xmas. Please help.
I turned my back just as the late afternoon California sun caught the diamond on her hand and shot a Christmas star of light into my eyes. She pulled her fur coat tight around her, shook back her streaked hair and turned to the next car. There, I thought, but for the grace of a credit limit, go I.
Merry Christmas to all those who give and those who receive.