Bless Our Differences
by M.L. Faunce
During the season of giving thanks, we tend to think mostly of those closest to us. We count our blessings and our own good fortune. We think of our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and our own children. But the holidays have always been for remembering others, as many volunteers and local organizations show by lending a hand to those in need.
What we may not think about, at this time of year or anytime, is the plight of those who are left out of the loop and spirit of the holidays left out just for being different. Even in the season of love, some are ignored; some even hated. We read about crimes of intolerance, appalled and disbelieving they could happen. But they do.
Sixty-eight percent of those polled after the lynching of Matt Shepard in Wyoming felt the attack against the young gay student could happen in their own community. As if to prove those fears, prayer vigils mourning the brutally slain student coincided with a parade mocking Shepherds lifestyle.
I know. Youre thinking this is not holiday fare or even fair to bring up. We have so much to do, so little time, as the holidays draw near. We go to church and volunteer in our communities and tend to our families.
But amid all the holiday lights, youll sometimes see some illuminating sights. Like the lady I see every day on the street downtown near my office. "Spare some change, baby?" her words greet the passerby. Some shy away from, as others are drawn to the seated figure with correct posture and sweet voice.
The reaction comes on seeing her face painted like a cat, whiskers and all, face smeared white, accented eyes and mouth. She can turn on a smile, what a smile, against the coldest night or steamiest day. Her life. Her choice. Her freedom.
Still, like others on the street, shes easy prey for the dark hearted who surface, even during the holidays.
Last year our president called for a national dialogue on race. This year, in the wake of such violent intolerance as the murder of young Shepherd, we might add to that dialogue. Like the holiday spirit, our own example of understanding and tolerance can be catching.
However average, eccentric, or different each of us may be, we all deserve the freedom to be.
by Barbara Sparks
Sea of parked cars
Toddlers in patent leather
Antiquated carving tools
Mashed potato clouds
Glossy green beans
Rows of straight-back chairs
Tinkling wine glasses
Candied sweet potatoes
Fussy babiesCelery sticks
Buttery hot rolls
Mamas corn muffins
Uncle Johns cigars
Latticed apple pies
Mulled cider punch
From Glen Burnie, poet Sparks notes: "In keeping with your mission to provide a positive alternative, we all appreciate a bit of nostalgia (re Bill Burtons column). I submit this poem in memory of many South County Thanksgivings I enjoyed as a child."