‘Tis the Season to be Grumpy

I hate people. You guys know that. And as much as I hate people, one might also assume I am not a charitable person. I wouldn’t blame you for taking that leap. However, you would be wrong. Ha! Plot twist!  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  You probably thought I was related to Scrooge or something. Nope, nope, and nope.

While I don’t have much, I give back whenever and however I can. I donate my time to animal advocacy and other humanitarian causes, and every year I donate to Toys for Tots and the children’s mitten/hat tree at my local social services.  I do what I can when I can.

But, admittedly, for the most part all I want is to go about my day and be left alone. Like today, for instance. I had to go to the store for some last-minute Christmas odds and ends, and while there, decided to get a coffee. The Salvation Army bell-ringer, who I liken to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in so many ways, was there, as they have been since Thanksgiving.

The most I get from the nice, older woman who rings her holiday bell is Good Evening, Merry Christmas. And me, I say Thank You and Happy Holidays to you as well. Pleasantries exchanged, we go back to our respective business. It’s all very amiable if not standoffish.  I’m fine with that. Happy with that, in fact.

Today, there was a gentleman ringing the bell, and he stood inside the little vestibule where the carts are instead of on the sidewalk outside the door. As I was leaving the grocery store with my bags and latte in hand, I guess he felt the need to share his um… ardent … opinion on my egregious financial – and charitable – decisions.

To make a long rant short, apparently if I have money to buy a latte, I have money to give to the Salvation Army, and by doing otherwise, I should be ashamed of myself. Now, this last bit, if I’m honest, made me smile a little. I mean, I’ve had much better people than him lay a guilt-trip on me, so his repartee fell somewhat flat.

I will interject here to say that if you donate to the Salvation Army, great, good for you — truly. Personally, their beliefs, as an organization, are contrary to mine and because of that, I specifically will not donate to them. Even if I had cash in my pocket (which I never do – I’m a card-carrying consumer) I would rather drop it into the “save the animals” jar at the vet or the “buy coats for kids” bucket at the hardware store than give it to the Salvation Army. But again, that’s just me. To each their own with regards to charity.

Like many things in life, charitable giving is a very personal choice.

However, to be perfectly frank, even if it were an organization I do support, I’d be hard put to dig into my pockets after being confronted in such a manner.

I know the bell ringers are paid, I’ve seen the want-ads. Whether or not they work partly on commission, I have no idea. Maybe that’s what prompted this gentleman to approach me the way he did. Maybe he needed a caffeine boost of his own. Maybe he was just feeling snarky. Who knows. I do wonder, though, if he approached any men in the same way he did me. Would he have had that same desire to belittle and shame a man?

I suppose I could have been a tad more altruistic in my response. Truth be told, I’m just a little tired of greeting rudeness with complacency and a smile. My kids weren’t with me (they never let me do anything), which left my tongue free to wag and wag it did. 

Hopefully the conversation went the way of the one I had with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who visited my home way-to-early Christmas morning last year. If so, I’ll either be on their list to never approach again or I will be on their prayer cards until the end of time. I guess either one is fine with me. Though I do fervently hope it is the former.

Bah, humbug.

Super Friends

So that thing called the Super Bowl happened over the weekend, right?  It seemed like there were more hungover, cranky people than usual straggling through the day on Monday, which reminded me that there was a big sporting event the day before.

If you can’t tell, I’m not a big football fan.  I’m a big fan of the commercials usually… though I’ve gotten my fill of those long before the game ever airs.  AND, I can be a big fan of football fans, especially if their love of the game makes the world a better place. “When, by chance, does that ever happen, Wendy?” you may be asking.

Well, despite my lack of knowledge, or frankly, any care whatsoever, in the teams playing in the Super Bowl, I had been paying keen attention to one of the highly publicized bets that took place between two celebrities.  Of course it has to be Marvel related, right? Of course it does. The Marvel Universe even invades the Super Bowl.

Chris Pratt (also known as Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy) and Chris Evans (Captain America from every other damn Marvel movie out there) placed a friendly wager on the Super Bowl that made me realize they’re probably just as good in real life as the heroes they portray on film. Here are links to catch up in case you haven’t seen the myriad of articles scattered throughout the internet already:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/chris-pratt-chris-evans-super-bowl-bet-charity-article-1.2087068

http://www.people.com/article/chris-evans-pratt-super-bowl-bet-update

The bet? If Seattle won, Evans has to visit the Seattle Children’s Hospital dressed as Captain America. If New England came out on top, Pratt would have to suit up as Star-Lord and traipse through the halls of Boston-based charity Christopher’s Haven.

The Twitter war between the two of them was so fun to watch (Chris Evans calling the Seahawks seachickens just tickled me to no end), mainly because in the end, the stakes aren’t for money or bragging rights or making the other person do something embarrassing and stupid. The end game is all about making sick kids happy and having kids who need strong role models to get through some extremely difficult things that life has thrown at them have a chance to meet their heroes. It’s equal parts being philanthropic, being fun, being gentlemanly, and being just a decent damn person.

And yes, it gets even better. With New England winning that means Star-Lord, aka Pratt, has to follow through and go to the Boston charity (which he is absolutely thrilled to do) – BUT – Evans isn’t about to sit on his laurels knowing that he brought sunshine to one group of kids and not another.  So even though Evans won the bet, Captain America is still going to visit the Seattle Children’s Hospital. It’s a win-win.

This is who I want my heroes to be. If I’m paying $16 to root and rally for them on the big screen I’m much more invested in giving the theaters and studios my money if I can root and rally for this person in real life. I don’t want my favorite heroes to be busted by the cops for getting into bar brawls, screaming anti-Semitic remarks, or hitting their significant others. When that happens it’s so much more apparent that the cape and cowl are just for a paycheck.

But when actors do something akin to what Pratt and Evans have done (and which these two do frequently by the way), that makes me feel that it’s not just a stupid movie part for them. Maybe it means something, maybe it’s a chance to communicate goodness…like they exhibit in real life. That, ultimately, is what makes them legit superheroes.

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A Resolution Worth Keeping in this Year of the Horse

 

I know that I made a bit of a fuss in a previous post about how many of us, certainly myself, are going to make some pretty lofty promises to ourselves for the coming year. We’ll then watch those oaths peter out quickly as we scrape together legit justifications that deep down we know are just lame cop outs. “Hey, I’d totally go to the gym if it didn’t look like it was going to rain sometime in the next few hours,” or “That lasagna is healthy. It has a bunch of zucchini in it,” or “I know I was going to cut down on shopping but how can I not buy cashmere at this price?”   We’ll somehow become masters of the impenetrable excuse.

But this year there is one resolution that I will keep. And I know I’ll keep it because it’s something I actually find fulfillment in doing…which is always a plus.  Exercising, dieting, financial responsibility…boring! There is just one resolution I can’t wait to make a reality. Namely, continue to do what I can to make a difference in the well-being of animals. This isn’t a new idea. If you know me you know how passionate I am about animal advocacy, but I am more determined than ever to make a difference in the lives of the creatures we share the world with.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of evil in the world and a shocking number of people are all too willing to exploit or destroy animals; animals who, frankly deserve better. I mean, for god’s sake, dog fighting is still an industry! Can you believe people engage in that?  Not to mention the continued slaughter of our horses.  Don’t even get me started on that one because I could talk your ear off….and none of it pleasant.

Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many small ways to contribute that can and will add up to a big difference. This is both a terrible and an uplifting thought. The great thing is that becoming more deeply involved won’t be hard and I’ll be welcomed with open arms (as would anyone who wants to help). The depressing part is that the only reason it’s so easy to join in on such a worthwhile cause is because there are so many acts of cruelty being done out there.

Yes, this resolution is one I can’t help but feel good about and who knows?  Maybe it will end up being contagious. 

Not to be a complete contradiction I am also going to try harder at the whole vegetarian thing. Yes, yes, I know I’ve stumbled in the past, but hey, it’s a new year and that’s the whole point of these resolutions, right?  Let’s start fresh and make those changes we want to see.  And this change is something I’m very determined to make within myself so it’s a goal I know won’t fall by the wayside.   I hope you stick with me as I work on this one.  I’ll share my successes and my failures.  It will keep me honest and provide motivation….as if I needed more motivation. 

So bring on 2014!  The Year of the Horse, yes!

 

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Artwork by the very talented Susan Monty
(click photo to visit her site)