Sometimes, I think that the problem with being a do-gooder is that one runs into so many people who do wrong. I was having dinner, after caroling with a bunch of church folks, and one of the folks who is a psychiatrist at a welfare center and our associate pastor who used to work in a social services office were both going on and on about how broken the system is, how broken the country is, how broken things are at the levels of poverty I only get to see at the OUR center or through our church. How many people are getting left behind. How the "improving economy" is only really improving for the wealthy and it's getting worse at the poverty level. Even how the computer system tracking welfare cases in the state of Colorado is so hosed it loses people for six to eight weeks or even months, so that they can't get food or shelter or even basic care...
... and at the end of the conversation I was deep in the morass of how much I hate humanity. How much I hate people. How STUPID even programmers can be to create a system that can LOSE PEOPLE that rely on it for their lives? Government paid programmers, even. Yeesh.
Caroling was weird for me, actually, and interesting as well. There were enough people to do three different routes, and lots of people that the pastor had felt could use the visit. The first was at a retirement home, and the first lady that we asked out came out and had us sing in the lobby. The second lady in the same home told our fearless leader, "There's been carolers every day this week, I don't want to listen to any more carolers." I think I'll be that second lady when I end up in a home... :-)
There was a small crowd of residents in the foyer when we sang and they applauded quite happily at every song. Anne, the alto from our choir, went around afterward saying Merry Christmas and talking with folks, as did John. Both did it so easily, and I hated that everyone else was ignoring them, so I awkwardly spoke to them too, hugged a few and shook hands with others. It was hard for me. Part of the reason I really want Jet in the church is so he will be very comfortable with older folks who aren't just his relatives, so he'll have an ease and grace with them like his father's. John grew up with older folks in his church, considering them his friends and his mentors and guides as well as another source of wisdom. He cares for them deeply with more emotion than I seem to be able to gather for anyone.
There's a portion in the description of Meyers-Briggs introverts that state that with some of us introverts, social interactions feel like a stage show for the benefit of the audience. It's something always a little artificial, a little forced. I'll admit to feeling like that whenever I talk with a stranger.
Anyway... the caroling was good, in ways, too. We visited two families, one of which had lost the patriarch in the past year, and they invited us into their garage or into their house and we sang for them and they were delighted.
John and Jet had had such a great time doing it the year before I had to go along, and I'm sad to admit that the biggest thing I realized was that I've lost much of my voice in the twenty some odd years since I last sang in a choir. Ah well. So I just kept well within my present range and power and nothing hurt when I was done. So it is.
There were two things that finally touched upon the Christmas spirit, finally, for me.
One was the kids and their quarters. All the little kids rampaged through the various congregations for the last two Sundays and begged loose change and quarters from all the grown-ups. They ended up being able to buy a goat and two flocks of chickens for the Heifer project. And even Jet really Got It when he showed pictures of a goat and flocks of poultry, including one great pictures of a little Chinese boy surrounded by tiny, yellow ducklings. Hee.
The other was a letter from the folks that have gotten very close to our displaced New Orleans family. They'd sent out a plea at Thanksgiving to all the families that had helped them move in for money to send the two girls and their Mom back home to New Orleans, so that they could see the girls' grandmother and their old places again. They figured on $1000 for all the tickets and a little spending money. They just sent out a thank you letter that said that not only had they gotten enough money to give the family their trip home, but that the generosity had very well supplied them with spending money AND there was enough left over to buy them a dryer as well! Wow.
So, yes, Virginia, there really are good people in the world...