Last week, when the temperature was in the teens, two forlorn-looking men stood together on the corner of Main and Chicago, neither of them wearing gloves. One of the men approached people as they passed, asking for enough money to take the CTA. No one stopped. When he approached me, I told him I was unemployed and sorry that I couldn’t help. But…then, a familiar tune played in my head, one that I learned as a kid.

“Good King Wenceslas looked out

… Bring me flesh and bring me wine

… Therefore, Christian men (all men), be sure

On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing” 

Written by John Mason Neale and published in 1853.

I thought about how cold it was and decided to stop at a distance from the men behind a pillar and search my purse for something to give them. When I went back to where the men stood, the one doing the begging was not there. His friend pointed to him coming across the street from where the bank stood. Maybe they thought they had a better chance to get donations near the bank. When the man reached me, I gave him the small donation that would cover his and his friend’s fare on the CTA. “Wow,” he said. “We really appreciate this. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Let me give you a hug!” With that, he hugged me and gave me a big kiss on my cheek. I appreciated his gratitude, although I wasn’t sure about the kiss. The two men proceeded to the CTA station.

Hard times have fallen on many, while some folks’ goose is getting fat. Please put some cash in the poor person’s hat. If you don’t have cash, a check will also do. If you won’t give anything to the needy, then God help you. God help you to care for the less fortunate, God help you. If you won’t help the downtrodden, then God help you.

Give what you can and have a HAPPY HOLIDAY!

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...