December 25, 2014 - 6:48 AM
This week I was planning to expound at length on the annoyingness of Christmas. How even a spot of routine shopping becomes a full-blown battle as you fight your way down aisles crowded with dithering wrinklies buying cheap Chinese rubbish for their ungrateful grandchildren. I was going to mention how the forced joviality, the relentless ho-ho-ho of it all makes you feel guilty for being grumpy about it, though almost everyone is, at least when no one else is watching. I was to ruminate upon the guilt of not giving repeatedly to the organized beggars who hover outside every supermarket and liquor store, and the fearful encounters with family members you wouldn’t dream of contacting at any other time of the year.
I was going to rail against the constant stream of insipid carols, and explain where, if the little drummer boy rum-pum-pum-pums me one more time, I was going to shove his drumsticks. I was revving up to rage at the pointless commercialization of it all which turns a religious festival into little more than a vile scramble for loot. I had Christmas in my sights.
And then, just a few days ago, there was a frantic knocking at my door. It was a police person, wanting to know if I had a key to my neighbour Marty’s house. Marty is even more ancient than I am, and just as grumpy. He had called 911, then the line went dead. I didn’t have a key. The police kicked in Marty’s door. He had fallen, was unconscious, and had lost a good deal of blood on his bathroom floor.
After the ambulance took him I helped secure his front door while the kindly, respectful, and decidedly un-squeamish officers tried to clean up some of the mess with old towels. I realized I knew nothing about Marty, not even if he had family, though the police people said there were no photographs that might suggest so.
So it seemed the poor old sod was stuck with me. I visited him in the hospital the next day, and wrote my phone number on a scrap of paper for him. I told him to ring me when they discharged him and I’d give him a ride home. A proud, independent man, he didn’t call. He’s home now, I can tell by the lights. He must have taken a taxi. I also know he kept my phone number, though I refuse to admit to myself how I know this. He’ll use it if is he has to.
Perhaps in a few days I’ll invite him over for a drink and we can pass a pleasant evening complaining about Christmas together.
You see, even the most misanthropic of us still need other people sometimes. And even the most miserable still have it within ourselves to relieve someone else’s misery, just a little, just for a while.
If ever there’s a time to remember this, it’s now. Merry Christmas to you all. Truly.
— Yes Virginia, the Grumpy Old Git does have heart
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