Hey, Merry Christmas!

Bet you didn’t know or even think about that whole water thing, did you?  Kind of puts a whole new spin on those Hawaiian Punch purchases you see food stamp people buy, doesn’t it?

White bread, pasta, high-sugar drinks, and so on are cheap, and it all has to last one month.  There’s none of this “running to the store to get something I ran out of” in the food stamp world.

For one thing, a lot of us don’t have cars.  So when we go to the grocery store, we have one shot and that’s it.  It’s a lot of pressure, seeing what we can buy that will last the entire month, that isn’t going to contribute to a health problem we already have, and that we are able to get home by ourselves using public transportation or even the shared-ride van (which we do pay for, by the way, it’s not free).

And high sodium items, BPA-lined canned food, high fat and high calorie junk food/drinks – those are the “staples” from the food bank.  The same items people give food stamp people the stink eye for, when they are in line at the supermarket.  The same items, if they thought about it more than a second, that they themselves or their church group donated to the local food bank!

Anyone still wondering why we have high blood pressure and are overweight?

There are few things more depressing than being poor on Christmas, and all you have to eat are canned green beans, canned corn, maybe canned soup, and little else.  It’s a given you don’t have a tree – those cost money and require a car, which, despite all this crap about “welfare queens driving Cadillacs”, most poor people don’t have.

And think about this – since Christmas is at the end of the month, this is a time when a lot of poor people are very low on food.   The check at the beginning of the month has to go to bills.  One spends any of that on food at their own peril.

This is where the “had to choose between medicine/toilet paper/toothpaste etc and food” decision comes into play.

Think.  Please think about all this.  Then, if you are so inclined, donate some healthy food to the food bank, food that will last until the food stamps are issued.  And maybe some things like coffee, or tea – oftentimes people can drink those at the end of the month when the milk and juice are gone.

Eggs are another great staple. Those last a long time too.

Some places even allow donations of toothpaste and toilet paper.  Or pet food.  Please consider donating those too.  And to those of you who do not think poor people should have animals….

…it’s hard to even respond to such a self-righteous, crappy statement, but since I am speaking for all poor folk today (that’s tongue-in-cheek), I’ll give it a shot.

Do you know how that person acquired that animal?  Do you honestly think we have the money to adopt an animal through a shelter or buy one at a pet store?

Hell, no.  Most likely it is a stray, or a personal rescue.  And we are not likely to turn it over to a shelter, because there are very few real no-kill ones…

…and it feels too much like throwing someone away and forgetting them, just as many poor people feel thrown away and forgotten.

Regarding my pets, I took 2 small kittens from my batterer’s house so he wouldn’t hurt or kill them.  Because a lot of domestic violence perpetrators hurt animals, too.  No way on earth was I leaving those little guys there.

When I got them home, I took them to the vet with money I had saved up, got them fixed and got their shots etc.  Then I tried to find them a new home.  I talked to a lot of people personally, and found one person willing to take them who backed out at the last minute.

Someone suggested I sit outside a place of business with the kittens, until someone saw how cute they were and took them.  But I couldn’t do that – how would I know what kind of home they were going to?  What if someone wanted to split them up?  They are brothers, from a litter of just them.

And one is a black cat.  Sometimes bad people hurt black cats and I just was not willing to take that chance.

So I kept them.  They are indoor cats, so they are healthy.  I make sure they always have cat food and cat litter, because I buy it online on the same day I pay bills, the day my monthly check comes.  That way there’s no running out accidentally.  And I buy them good food and litter, so they can stay healthy.

If that means I have to pay my prescription medicine, medical visits co-pay, or van service in pennies, I do.  It’s a great testament to the people around here that I have never been made to feel bad or embarrassed about that.

I am typical of most poor people on disability, I think.  So don’t judge when we have animals.  We love our pets, just like you love yours.

So…please think think think.  Then, if you can, help just one person, would you please?  You would be amazed at how much of an impact the simplest acts of kindness can make to someone who is used to keeping their head down and staying invisible.

If you don’t want to donate to the food bank, then find a poor person, make up a basket for them, and deliver it (anonymously, even). If you don’t know where to find someone to help, ask around – maybe your neighbors know someone, or are related to someone, who could use a little Christmas cheer.

One holiday season, my son Ian and I went to the store to mail some packages (Christmas presents). We weren’t completely poor, as he was on unemployment at the time and I had just gotten on disability. But we were struggling enough so that we were both kind of sad we couldn’t be with the rest of the family on Christmas.

It is a $5 taxi ride each way from my house to the store. We had budgeted carefully for all this. We got in and out in a hurry, and as we got into the waiting cab, the driver told us that someone had just come along and paid our fare!

He was long gone, so I never got to thank him. It cost him $10, but it brightened my day (and Ian’s, too) more than that man could have imagined.

Thank you for whatever you do, to make someone’s holiday just a little bit brighter.

This week’s weirdness/coolness comes from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.  They’ve invented the world’s smallest particle accelerator, tabletop-size:

“Berkeley Lab Builds World Record Tabletop-Size Particle Accelerator”, Gizmag website, 12/9/2014.

Not available at ThinkGeek…not yet.

Movie recommendation of the week:  “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, 1964.  If you missed it on CBS (as I did), I don’t know where to find it except maybe the local video store.  Netflix has it for DVD rental but not streaming.

If you have no dvd player to go rent “Rudolph”, and you get Netflix, try “Top 25 Christmas Movies on Netflix”.  If Hulu is your thing, try “Holiday Movie Guide 2014”.

I am going to be holed up in my apartment this weekend, on my sofa with a blanket, watching all manner of holiday films…I love all that sentimental stuff.

Grrrr leave it to me to forget to buy popcorn and hot chocolate!! Too busy trying to budget in all the quinoa, bulghur, flaxseed, and frozen fruits/vegetables I promised Dr. Wonderful I would buy.  I have no idea how to make a movie snack out of any of that…

Keep warm.  Keep your families close.  Eat popcorn, watch movies, drink hot chocolate!!

 

 

 

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