“Christmas is coming. / The goose is getting fat. / Please put a penny / In the old man’s hat. / If you haven’t got a penny, / Then a ha’penny will do. / If you haven’t got a ha’penny / Then God bless you.”
– An old children’s rhyme
I met a homeless man the other day. He smelled of poverty and dog.
As we talked I learned he slept on the hard frozen ground of Taos in a tent with his dogs for company, comfort and warmth.
I remembered an extra comforter at home and asked if he could use it; I would bring it to him.
When he saw it, he hesitated.
“It’s a nice down-filled comforter and very warm, “ I urged.
“I’m afraid my dogs would tear it up to get to the feathers,” he explained. “Give it to someone who needs it more.”
I met a short, wren-brown-clothed woman at a charity give-away table. She had picked up a long, long garland of shabby white flowers. I offered her a grocery bag to stuff it in.
“I live in my car and I’m going to wrap it all around the outside to decorate for Christmas,” she smiled.
This uncertain Believer suddenly hugged her, whispering, “God bless you.”
I don’t know if she has any pets to keep her warm in that flower bedecked icy car, but she will have a down comforter to snuggle under in her nest.
And if there are angels – there are angels – and if they skim, singing across this wondrous place nestled by sheltering mountains, I hope their sweet, high-pitched voices are heard – even if only by the dogs sleeping next to their people.
Stringfellow lives and writes in Taos.