Monday, December 24, 2012

a Christmas story

This is a Christmas story. Last year, I arranged for a Christmas motel stay for James, a homeless man I had met a couple of years ago when I worked on an art project. James is hard to find, transient as he is, but over time, he has let me know how to locate him with a wee little bit of certainty.

So when I found James a few weeks ago, I talked with him about again staying in a motel for Christmas. He lit up like, of course, the proverbial Christmas tree, and immediately recounted that we had met at 11 a.m. on Christmas Eve last year, and I had been able to arrange for him to occupy the motel room early that day.

I was astounded at his recall.  We agreed that I would meet him at an appointed spot at noon today, Christmas Eve, and I would try to get early check-in again at the same hotel. Great. He was thrilled at the prospect of a night of shelter.

                                                                                  James, 2010

James asks nothing of me. When I ask him if he needs anything, he is hesitant, but eventually he sometimes asks for something small (a burrito, Helm's mayonnaise [yes, in a squirt container, from the grocery store]. So this year, he asked for pre-cut ham from Von's, our local grocery store. He has no upper teeth, so the pre-cut status was critical.

On a whim, I went to the motel at 9 this morning, and, sure enough, after some negotiation [my attorney skills do come in handy at times],the proprietor said James could check in any time. I got the key and went looking for James, fully expecting not to find him. But of course, he was waiting for me at our appointed meeting place, three hours early.

I told him of my luck in getting the room early, but had not brought the ham. I said I would come back with it. No bother, James said, he had found five packs of sliced ham in the dumpster behind the Circle K store, as well as bacon and eggs. He assured me they were fresh enough for him. "Well, I will get you cooking utensils, then," I replied. "No, I have those." I asked if he wanted anything else, and he reluctantly requested a roasted chicken, again from Vons. And crab ("I already have the mayonnaise for that," he offered).

I secured the chicken, crab, hot mac and cheese, and a Tom Clancy book. He informed me that mac and cheese was his favorite, and that he had reading glasses and would certainly enjoy the book. The motel was around the corner from our meeting place, so it was not a long walk for James and his "luggage," as he calls it, his stroller, full of his worldly possessions, that he acquired for $5 after the local police cracked down on wandering grocery carts.

We need little. James wanted some protein for Christmas. Luck, or some other magical force, provided that to him before I could. I will save the sliced Christmas ham for him, and find him later this week, when he may or may not be hungry. He'll thank me, "Thank you, Pamela," as he does. And I am the richer for this life-view.


Bookhandler said...

I am touched by this story. Thanks for telling it and sharing your kindness--a good reminder this time of year.

Pamela Price Klebaum said...

I thank you for sharing your feelings. Merry Christmas to you.

Gerrie said...

I love hearing about your encounters with James. My husband works with a feeding program at our church and has made many good friends among the homeless and at risk.

Pamela Price Klebaum said...

Thank you, Gerrie. A Merry Christmas to you and your husband and Scooter!

Mina said...

Thank you and Merry Christmas, what a wonderful blessing you have been for James

Pamela Price Klebaum said...

...he has been to me, Mina. Thank you.

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