Which is something you can say about ANY season. I like to think my birthday month, for example, ‘tis the season to party; January ‘tis the season to resolve; February tis the season to forget January’s resolutions (tis also the season to fall in love for the free FEB 14 meal & gift grab, woo!) and August ‘tis the season to sweat.
So I’ll narrow it down to “Tis the season…. to give! Although I was really in it for the taking but I think giving or receiving, as long as there’s some sort of transaction taking place, all is good in the world.
Bored on a Saturday night, I called up a friend, dragged ’em out of their house and into the warm embrace of a local coffee shop. Soon enough, riding high off the buzz of double espressos and americanos (and also answering to the grumbling in my stomach), we went out onto the busy main street in search of sustenance. I really, really, really wanted poutine but my friend pointed out that deep-fried potatoes covered in cheese and then smothered in gravy was probably the worst thing I could possibly want to put in my body and dared me to think of something less healthy for human consumption. Double dared me too. I stopped listening after ‘smothered in gravy’ and drifted off to my happy place. In it, poutine is low in fat and one spin class a week is all that’s required to maintain a Tyra Banks-like body. Snapping back to reality, I tried to argue the nutritional value of poutine (…technically it’s not a poison??). Losing this battle, I half-heartedly agreed to grilled chicken donairs while visions of deep-fried deliciousness still danced in my head. Out into the Vancouver rain we ventured, moving quickly towards the donair place when we were stopped by an incredible sight rarely seen in this day and age -FREE FOOD: Jumbo hot dogs, cherry and apple turnover pastries and to wash it all down – steaming hot chocolate. Stopped dead in my tracks I turned to the heavenly saint proffering the delicious treats and immediately questioned his reason for being:
“So how much for this free food?” I inquired.
“Nothing my dear, it’s all free. Would you like one?” He answered with a smile.
“I would love a hot dog, but how much would it cost again?” I questioned him once more, my eyes narrowing.
“Not a thing. All free, courtesy of a local charity for the homeless”
“Oh so I need to make a contribution then? Make a donation somewhere?”
“Nope. Not at all, just enjoy the hot dog and try some of this delicious hot chocolate. Trust me, it’s the best hot chocolate around”
Realizing I wasn’t going to get any useful information outta this rube I reached for my wallet while my eyes searched his makeshift station looking for a price list or at least a donation bin. Finding none, I put my wallet away, reached across the table and happily took the delicious jumbo hot dog in its heated bun and proceeded to smother it in ketchup and mustard. 2 of the only 3 toppings available. What? No sauerkraut or bacon bits or grilled onions? Sheesh. I guess you get what you pay for. Am I right??
Disappointedly I added some relish (the green colour makes it a vegetable), the last of the 3 toppings and took a tentative bite.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I could hear my friend protesting my decision to eat questionable street meat from a questionable vendor with admittedly questionable objectives. Locked once again in my happy place, I was just really, really, really excited about the hot dog. Snapping back to reality, I agreed my behaviour was rash and then peered closely at my hot dog, doing my own personal safety inspection (Dr. Nelley – scientist extraordinaire). Seeing nothing out of place (meaning no obvious hooves, antler bits or chunks of salmonella) I took another bite. Free AND delicious?? That never happens. Maybe it was the empty stomach talking but dang, them poor folks sure know how to eat. As my friend continued on about proper meat temperatures, I continued to fully enjoy the meat and condiment party taking place in my mouth.
As we continued on the street, soon enough a homeless individual looking for spare change accosted us. Wanting to tell him ‘no thanks’ (I prefer to give to homeless organizations rather than to the homeless themselves) I was stopped by my current mouthful of hot dog. Yup. Still really, really, really good. And still finding it hard to believe it was free. What a coincidence. My hungry stomach and their desire to fill said stomach. What luck!
Speaking of luck, luckily my ingenious friend cut in and let the home-deprived individual know we had something even better to offer him. Puzzled, we both looked at him wondering exactly what he was putting out there on the table. Catching on slightly late (can hot dogs cause slight stupidity??) I listened in as he told the homeless guy to go back a block to get the free hot dogs and hot chocolate and pastries we had JUST LEFT. Oh yeah. He thanked us quickly and scurried off to eat what could have been my second helping. Humph. I guess one will have to be it for me. (Please note: This was a few weeks before the weigh-in so plenty of time to burn off that doggie at the gym)
-Insert APPLAUSE here– Patting ourselves on the back for a job well done, we realized we’re pretty great individuals for advertising free food for the homeless. Way better than giving away a few spare nickels to eventually buy a hot meal – is an actual hot meal! Knowing we would probably see a lot more homeless folks on our route (I really need to consider moving), we planned to tell each and every one of them about the free eating bonanza only minutes away.
In the end, unfortunately, we only saw 2 others in our travels and both were fast asleep/passed out in the street. However, we still took the kudos for our high-minded attempted efforts because I like to think it’s the thought that counts. After all…
‘tis the season.
Did you know?
- Food banks receive more than enough food during the holiday season but usually suffer from a lack of donations throughout the year. (Source: Vancouver Food Bank)
- Solution: Stagger our donations. Hold summer food drives at your office. Consider giving to the food bank every few months rather than just at Christmas.
- Mistletoe – a symbol of love (or at least kissing) at Christmas, is actually quite the opposite. The entire plant is poisonous, especially the berries, which are extremely toxic. http://www.mountlehmanllamas.com/mistletoe.html