by | Jun 10, 1998 | Blessing, Christmas, Giving

“Penny for the cup? Spare change mister? A dollar for a cup of coffee?”

The bum sat up against a frigid wall between towering buildings.

“You aren’t going to give him anything, are you? You know he’ll just spend it on booze.”

A wife with frosted hair tugged on her husband’s arm as he reached into his cashmere pocket for a dollar.

“Now you don’t know that.”

“Look at him.” Her gloved hand went up to her nose. “He’s a drunk. He’ll just go down and buy a cheap bottle of wine and drink it down and sleep the rest of the day.”

“But it’s Christmas. We might be the only hope he’s got.”

“The only thing he’s hoping for is a bottle of cheap rotgut”

“That may be…but we’re doing o.k. this year and I want to give something back.”

“Give something back? Who gave us our money? This dirty man on the street? No. We worked hard for all we have. If you’re going to reward anybody, it should be me for putting up with all those long hours at the office.”

The husband scratched his head still looking at the filthy bundle of humanity below him.

“This could be us, you know.”

“Don’t be silly. We’d never let ourselves fall prey to an addiction. We’re too smart for that.”

“He may not be an addict.”

“Yeh, right and that’s Ivana’s natural hair color.”

“He may just be on hard times.”

“Let’s go, I’m getting cold and the curtain goes up in ten minutes.”

The husband looked at the bum who was now looking directly into his eyes. The bum’s eyes were blue surrounded by telltale wrinkles of being in the sun too long. He could have been a farmer who had spent years out in the fields. He could have been a veteran who had looked up at the beating sun in Viet Nam. He could have been a father who had tried to protect his son from the violence of the street. He could have been anything…he could have been him.

The wife walked on and quickly, the husband reached into his pocket and took out a $10 dollar bill.

“Here old man, before my wife sees. Merry Christmas.”

The man in the cashmere coat walked on catching up to the drifts of perfume left by his wife.

“Merry Christmas to you, sir.” The bum’s voice was barely heard. The bum stood up from the wall and walked to the hot dog vendor down the street. After ordering five dogs he walked around the corner to the alley. There huddled against the other side of the wall was a little family of two children and woman. They hadn’t always been here, but like the man had said, they had fallen on hard times. Things would be better in the new year.

“Here dear…Merry Christmas.” He handed her the hot dogs which she passed out to the children.

A little girl of five looked up over her hotdog. “Is there change, Daddy?”

“Just a little.”

“Then we shall have a present for Jesus’ birthday.”

” And when I start my new job after Christmas, we will remember this blessing. Yes, we will give Him a present too.”

Teresa Higginbotham