Of Good Deed & High Hats

In the poem I posted yesterday I wrote about a hand-me-down dress. Though I’ve changed the circumstances, I did have a particular story in mind. Years ago I read a memoir by Maria Campbell, called HALFBREED. She gives a little history of her people and then tells of her own life as a Métis woman in a predominantly white world. it’s quite a history!

QUICK FACTS

When the white men came from Europe, a number of them married – or lived with – native women. Their offspring became a group in their own right, the Métis people and they initially settled along the Red River in Manitoba. The government signed treaties with the indigenous people and settled them on reservations, but the Métis, being neither this nor that, got no special favours from Canadian or Manitoba governments. In fact, after the Riel Rebellion they were driven off their farms and many migrated to northern Saskatchewan. Some did start up farms; others survived however they could.

Maria was born in the settlement around Prince Albert, SK, to a couple who were scraping by, but rich in their love for each other and their family. Her mother died young (before Maria was a teen, as I recall) and her father never remarried. So the children grew up with their grandmother filling in as much as she could, but they missed out by not having a mother’s care and teaching.

BOXING DAY GIFTS

Boxing Day back in merry old England was a time to give the servants and/or “the poor among us,” a treat or gift, often food. It was boxed up in a nice package and handed over to servants or carried to the elderly and infirm. This practice was more common years back and Canada has kept the day, if not the practice.

Anyway, this event was still carried on by the women’s groups in Maria’s area. Feeling sympathy for the poor native children, community women would make up boxes with goodies and clothing their children didn’t want anymore or had outgrown. After Christmas they’d go around to the native and Métis communities and hand these out. Every year Maria’s family would get several of these boxes.

Her father would burn them. Oh, the children would wail! They knew from their friends that there was candy and good food inside and they wanted it.

Perhaps her father was a proud man who didn’t want any kind of charity, but as she got older Maria began to see what he’d spared them by burning those boxes. When native and Métis children wore those hand-me-down clothes to school, the white children would mock them. Maria would hear sarcastic comments like, “I see you’re wearing my old dress. I got a new one.”

In my poem I had the little girl tear up her dress and stuff it under a bush, tired of being mocked by the childish former wearer.

It’s interesting how many words and expressions there are in English for looking down on others. Snobbish; snooty; top-lofty, high hat. Do we need so many terms because there’s so much of it done?

HIGH HATS COME IN EVERY SHADE

And children love trying them out. On one hand a child can seem so accepting that his parents are delighted; the next time the child will act so arrogant his parents are dismayed. Though we try to teach our children tolerance for others, and for different ways of doing things, “We’re better than you,” is a refrain some of them love to chant.

It’s a challenge to teach children! Accepting others who are different doesn’t come naturally. To make matters worse, the more you draw attention to the differences in people and stress how “we must accept them,” the more unnatural it becomes. And children are quick to spot the difference between what parents are saying and what they do.

Maria writes about “the white people” and the Métis, but her account would read much the same if it were whites versus blacks, the English versus the Irish, one religion versus another, or the rich versus the poor anywhere in the world. This isn’t a new problem.

“SECOND-HAND” TODAY

Genuinely good deeds are prompted by a concern for our fellow human beings and people do appreciate kindness. I buy at Value Village myself. But so much of what they receive is shipped overseas. Are we making ourselves feel good while disrupting the economy in other countries?

Perhaps we need to check our attitudes when we buy ourselves nice new duds and ship our old stuff to charity —  “Let’s send this to the poor people in Africa” is coming to an end; they’re starting to reject our charity.

Stashing Stuff Safely

This post, an original compilation of Whatnot, has been written in accordance with all the rules of Biff’s Whatnot Wednesday.

I thought of baking cookies today so I pulled my cookie sheets out of the cupboard and extracted my laptop from between two of them. Later, when I went looking in another cupboard I discovered where I’d hidden my cell phone.

Are you wondering about my strange storage places? Mind you, if you’re a worrywart like me, you won’t even have to ask, as you probably have all your own hiding places for your valuables. The laptop was sitting in plain sight on the table when we were ready to leave for a shopping trip. Couldn’t have that!

Cabinet.Alexas ftos
            Alexas Fotos — Pixabay

I read years ago that if you’re going to store valuables in the house, you’re better off to keep it in the freezer where no thief will think to look. (Except that now I’ve told. 😉 ) I’ve never done it, mainly for lack of cash to hide, but it made perfect sense to me. I don’t doubt that house-dwellers have various little nooks and crannies where they stuff their stuff for safekeeping. (Beware, though, about storing anything in a hot place like the oven.)

But do keep a record — and do warn your spouse and children that things are not always what they seem. One lady gave away a pair of her husband’s old socks that he never wore anymore — without checking. He nearly had a stroke when he got home, did a random double-check, and learned that his over $1000 nest egg had been donated to the Salvation Army.

To add insult to injury, they hadn’t deemed the socks worth keeping and had tossed them in the dumpster — without checking. That evening guess who was down at the local landfill searching for a pair of socks with a wad of cash stuffed inside. Another lady, trying on shoes in a charity shop, found $1100 stuffed in the toe of a shoe. Bless her, she was honest enough to turn it in.

Yes, do tell someone trustworthy that some things are hidden and they should beware of doing a random discard. Some elderly couples, not trusting banks, squirreled away their life savings with no one the wiser. Money caches in old mattresses and such has gone up in smoke.

Back to the freezer. I read yesterday that you should NOT store your coffee in the freezer. It’s apt to lose flavor. And since our morning java is pretty important, we do want to keep it fresh — and safe. Don’t leave it on the shelf where a burglar may find it; rather, keep it in the back of your filing cabinet, or hidden behind the dictionaries in your bookcase. (You never know, a thief might snitch your novels.)

Are You Boxing Today?

Good morning everyone.

We woke up yesterday morning to a delightful fluffy blanket of fresh snow and a calm, mild sort of day. This morning it’s -15° C / 5° F and a serious wind from the NW, reducing the temp to -21 C / -11 F with windchill factored in. a person doesn’t want to be out side long in this “invigorating” weather.

And it’s Boxing Day here in Canada. While this day hasn’t no spiritual significance, it was traditionally a day to at least think of the poor. Back in Ebeneezer Scrooge’s Day folks would have packed up boxes of food and goodies as a special treat for the poor. Of which there were many, as the Ghost of Christmas Present reminded Scrooge, including Ebeneezer’s own clerk, Bob Cratchett.

When it comes to charity, some folks are truly giving and kind, no strings attached, bless their dear hearts. When they give a gift, it’s a quality item. Others have agendas of buying friendship or affection, and still others use this as a way to feel good while getting rid of outdated, unwanted stuff. I managed a Thrift Shop for a year and could write lots about this. 😉

And there was a generation that saved everything and passed it on. My Aunt-Mom grew up in very poor circumstances and never wanted to throw away anything that might be useful. She didn’t hoard, though; she passed it on. After I was married, she’d pack and mail big Christmas parcels for us with all manner of things like cookies they couldn’t eat, blank menu sheets from the restaurant they sold, stamps they hadn’t sold at the post office, or Grandma’s old dresses for me to make into girls’ aprons. I still think back with affection on Mom’s grab-box parcels, but I can’t say much got used.

Mine is the generation that’s had to move those dear old parents and grandparents into small apartments, which meant helping them downsize. I’m sure a lot of you can tell about an endeavor of that sort. While I’m trying to declutter for my children’s sake, I still have that mindset that “This might come in handy if / could still be used for…” Yes. they’ll still have a lot of stuff to deal with when we move on.

Back to Boxing Day. I doubt anyone’s packing boxes for the poor today. Christmas hampers are generally given out ahead of time by a number of charities these days. Boxing Day has come to mean SALES! Advertised well in advance. Two weeks before Christmas we got a “BOXING WEEK SALE” flier from some store.

Traditionally, stores here in Canada have been closed on Boxing Day, though some are pushing it and some provinces are allowing store opening today. In one way, Boxing Day is our Black Friday, except that Christmas is over, the pressure is off, and there’s no scrambling over each other to get to bargains. Boxing Day/Week sales are simply the way stores get rid of surplus inventory — especially seasonal and/or perishable — before the Easter sales start in February. Sigh…

And now I shall treat myself to a cup of fresh hot coffee and think about my day’s work. We aren’t having our family Christmas until Sunday, which should give me time to scrounge through my closets and come up with a nice box of misc-this-and-that as a special treat for my grandchildren. Then they’ll have something to tell their children about Granny’s Christmas parcels — and my daughter will be that much ahead when it comes time to deal with our stuff. 😉

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: SPIRITUAL
Daily Addiction prompt word: TREAT

A Scrooge-Like Compassion

Today’s Ragtag Prompt word is CHARITABLE

There are many people who’s hearts are touched by compassion, who are kind and willing to share when they see a need, and I’m thankful for them all. Unfortunately this trait rarely extends to the animal kingdom. Their policy tends to be, “Me and mine and that’s IT!”

Our poor Angus is nursing a gash on his left cheek because another cat dared to come over and sit on our step — and needed to be taught that such liberties aren’t allowed. Over the past few years he’s had various abscesses that needed doctoring and has notches on one ear — all of which came about during another “physical removal operation.”

I’ve had opportunity in the past to see Angus display the charity of Ebeneezer Scrooge. That crotchety character, when asked for a donation for folks who needed food and shelter during the winter, suggested the poor house. When told that some folks would rather die than spend their days in the poor house, Scrooge mercilessly replied, “If they’re going to die, then let them get on with it. There’ll be less needy people.”

Angus has a nice warm house to live in and lots of food, but he isn’t at all sympathetic to another cat who’d wish for the same. He has come to accept Pookie, who wandered in about five years ago, but should he lay eyes on another cat anywhere near our house now, he communicates his message loud and clear: “What’s here is all ours but YOU, wretch, are not getting ANYTHING. Now beat it!”

Here’s a little poem I wrote once about the subject.

Border Confrontations

Two tomcats meet on my fence;
in a fanfaronade of frizzled fur
they dispute who owns this particular
property. Tails lash, eyes flash fire
as they hash it out – militants
defending self-defined borders,
crouched to spring or flee.
After prolonged discussion one
bows to superior yowl power,
cedes territory grudgingly.
You silly cats! I own this place.
But neither one asks my opinion.

😦

From my book, Silver Morning Song

The Seat or the House?

This morning my thoughts went to the words, “the seat of the scornful.”  And the inspiring poem, The House By the Side of the Road

David, writer of Psalm 1, gives this caution about who we choose to hang out with and where we sit down.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Psalm 1:1

The seat of the scornful seems to be a crowded place in this day and age — and maybe always has been. I must admit that I’ve occupied that spot too often myself. I’ll make a comment about something someone’s doing, then suddenly I catch an undertone of, “Well, I would NEVER do a thing like THAT.”

Judgement is not scorn. We need judgement. We need to be able to draw from our own experience and observing the experience of others to determine where to put our feet. We need to form sound conclusions for our own safety and avoid the slippery slopes others may be saying are “great fun. We don’t need to scorn them when they disappear down that slope into the mud puddle at the bottom.

Sam Foss has a great attitude and many have found his poem inspiring: Here’s the second verse:

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat
Nor hurl the cynic’s ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Have a great day, everyone. 🙂