Hands to Clasp

grinch2I love the Grinch. After all, I’m a lawyer. I don’t love him because of the heartwarming way he teaches us all the true meaning of Christmas. In fact I turn off the last 5 minutes of the show, just around the time he has gathered his booty and starts to make his way back up the mountain.

I love him because of his ruthlessness. I imagine the Whos are probably way behind on their house payment or sitting around collecting welfare checks. The evidence is everywhere. They live in a ring of houses, surrounded by beautiful mountains with no visible means of economic support. No factories, no office buildings. Yet somehow they are able to give their kids gar ginkers AND tar tinkers for Christmas. Yeah right.

It has probably had a deleterious effect on my kids. One Christmas when my son was about 7 years old, he and I joined a group from our church to go caroling to the “shut-ins”. He kept calling them the “shut-ups” and when we sang “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” his version went:

“Now bring us some friggin’ pudding, now bring us some friggin’ pudding, now   bring us some friggin’ pudding and BRING SOME RIGHT NOW!!!”

The last four words were sung with a particularly disturbing gusto.

The only Christmas spirit I usually allow myself is to daydream about golden days of legal yore. A time when one could troll the ancient yuletide carol. I imagine what it would be like to represent eight maids a milking against the ten lords a leaping for equal pay and benefits. I’d give my left chestnut to have been the lawyer for one of the three wise men, the one with the gold.

Then my legal assistant threw a curve ball. She suggested our office sponsor a family through the Christmas Connection. I frequently tune her out so she mistook my grunt and nod for acquiescence.  Then she called to make arrangements. They were out of families. Thank goodness. At least we tried. She started to hang up when she heard footsteps approach the lady on the other end of the line. “Oh wait”, the lady said. “Here’s a new one.”

This family’s house burned to the ground the day before Thanksgiving. Now they have an extended family of 19 living in a 3 bedroom apartment. And one of them delivered a baby on Thanksgiving Day. The list they prepared had one request: Everything.

“Of course” I muttered to my cynical self. But this seemed like a rather audacious request even by the lowly standards of the greediest welfare frauds. While I busily prepared collection letters, my employees contacted the family and went shopping. They threw themselves into the project with enthusiasm and selflessness. They bought food, blankets, baby clothes, diapers, wipes, toys, even a Christmas tree. On Tuesday they went to drop off the gifts. All I had to do was write the check.

When they returned, my staff told me that this family misstated what they needed when they said “everything.” They needed anything. The newborn did not have a crib. She has been sleeping in a broken car seat. When the grandmother saw a sack of bath towels she clutched one to her chest and started to bawl. A towel.

“So they weren’t drinking beer they bought with my tax dollar?”

“And they weren’t wearing fancy jerseys and dressed up like a baller?”

“Did they try to hide their iPhones and pretend they didn’t holler?” I asked in my best Dr. Seuss verse.

No. None of that. They just cried. And smiled. And thanked everyone. And retreated to their corner of the world where they will rely on faith-and each other- to make it through.

But I don’t want you to think it’s all sugar plum fairies and candy canes over here. Next week I’m meeting with a Who about an injury she suffered from a defective jing tingler. And the Grinch is coming by to see me. His insurance company dropped him because of an enlarged heart. I’ve heard that can be a hazardous condition.

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