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 Shepherd’s lifestyle.

I know. You’re 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, you’ll 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, she’s 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.

Thanks Giving

by Barbara Sparks

Sea of parked cars

Obligatory turkey

Whole-house aroma

Oyster stuffing

Toddlers in patent leather

Cranberry sauce

Antiquated carving tools

Mashed potato clouds

Non-denominational grace

Glossy green beans

Rows of straight-back chairs

Harvard beets

Linen tablecloths

Corn pudding

Tinkling wine glasses

Candied sweet potatoes

Fussy babiesCelery sticks

Recipe swapping

Buttery hot rolls

Cousin love

Mama’s corn muffins

Televised football

Steaming coffee

Uncle John’s cigars

Latticed apple pies

War stories

Mulled cider punch

Imagined snowflakes

Pumpkin pies

Appealing leftovers


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 Burton’s column). I submit this poem in memory of many South County Thanksgivings I enjoyed as a child."

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VolumeVI Number 46
November 19-25, 1998
New Bay Times