Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ho, Ho, WHOA!

Still 'tis the season, right? So what's with all the glum faces I see around me?

What I'm thinking is that we as a lump sum of humanity have become depressed, dejected, disappointed, and otherwise demented and there is no one to blame but ourselves. Sure, we're jobless. Sure, we have little hope of surviving to the New Year with any sort of flash and flare. But there are some diamonds amidst the coal in our stockings.

One lovely glimmer our credit card bills that are shrinking because we're afraid to spend, and that's a good thing. Though the cost of everything has risen exponentially, prices are starting to decline...a good and a bad thing, but we'll stick to the good part for now. After all, we horse people have never been known to be overtly reality-based. Why start during the holidays?

Horses are without a doubt the most expensive of house pets, yet the vast majority of us are managing even if it means skimping on bedding to make sure the hay keeps coming. Grain is a luxury in times like these, and that's okay. Water and good hay will take Fuzz Butt far without too much strain on his health (though his attitude may be taxed to the max). If they're happy and healthy, they're fine and better than many.

In my last post I suggested that some of us (you know who you are) who like to throw money at family and friends during the holidays in the hope that they might actually like us after New Year's might do better to toss a little in the direction of some of the needy horses and other house pets who are suffering more than we humans through this financial drought. I'm making that suggestion again (can't hear it often enough, can we?), but in deference to those who have whined that they really don't have cash to spare, I'm adding that volunteering time is also a really fine thing to do.

Of course I'm focusing mostly on the animals who we capture, keep, and often torment for our own bizarre and questionable purposes and who have no options since they can't unionize, write letters to the editor, or turn us in to the watchdog agencies on their own. They deserve some extra consideration all the time, not just at the holidays. But there are also humans out there in need, sometimes just craving a friendly shoulder or a leg up on a job application or a cup of coffee paid for by the stranger in line behind them at Dunkin'.

Time to drag out that copy of the Pay it Forward DVD you got for Christmas a few years back and watch it. Not all of it; you can skip the part at the end where the kid dies because that's just too depressing for a holiday pick-me-up. But let's have a go at some Random Acts of Kindness, shall we? The lady who gave me her shopping cart yesterday with the quarter still installed in the chain release said "Merry Christmas!" For a minute it really felt that way, and I smiled for the rest of the hour of dragging-and-dropping foodstuffs in my mindless weekly ritual. I smiled at the checker and bagged my own groceries. That made her smile and wave her arthritic hand at me. I'm sure the next person in her line was greeted with something more kindly than her usual scowl and rumble.

So small, that quarter, and yet so...well...ripply in effect.

Let it start with us horse folks. When you're at the farm market, pick up a bag of slightly bruised apples and drop them off at the local equine rescue. Go break the ice in your neighbor's water trough while she's at work or dump her dog's water dish and refill it. When you pass the pet shelter, stop in and ask if they can use a hand this weekend cleaning cages and grooming animals. If you have kids, get them on board as well.

We're a damned decent species when we've got sufficient motivation. Think of this as the beginning of a better year--not better in the sense of bringing you more of the same old same old, but better in ways you can't imagine yet--and use that thought to spark something. You'll be amazed at the outcome, I promise.

And order my books. There's no hope of delivery in time for Christmas, but IOU's in pretty holiday designs are always welcome.

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