Sunday, January 1, 2012

Auld Lang Syne...

Hello, blog firends...

Greetings, and Happy 2012! Blessings and good wishes to all of you.

It has been a while, and I have been feeling the urge to blog. I have been sitting here, thinking, "do I write about this? If I put this out there for the world to read (and hopefully proffer comment upon), does it negate the good of what has happened?

I guess now would be a good time to explain what it is that I am talking about before my head explodes from all of this "what if'"-ing.

We have a friend across the street. He is an older man, from Ireland. I think he has some kind of chronic illness (of this I am also unsure). He has two sons (who are old enough to work) and a live in friend (who is also capable of working - these may or may not be important facts: I have yet to decide).

I have always sent over my baking run-offs (extras), and little nibbles of new recipes I'm working on. I believed I was being neighbourly - and we always have extra baking that I hate to see go bad. I know that things are tight for them. I know what that feels like, and I always appreciate the little gestures from the people in my life who love me and want to bring a bit of sunshine to a cloudy day.

Then, a few months ago, the oldest boy came to our house with a note. The note said that they were hungry and had no food. It asked if I could spare a loaf of bread.

I was stunned into silence.  I could not imagine how humbling an experience like that must be. I didn't know what to say. Except for, "of course.  We don't have any bread, but I will give you something to eat."

We took a shopping bag full of food and sundries, whispering hushedly on departure for home that we had been truly fortunate to be in a position to help a friend, no questions asked.

And then, it happened again.

And again.

And a few more times after that. Then, after the last time, I gave him the contact information for an intake worker at a city foodbank.

Each time, the oldest boy would come to my door and stand silent while I read another note. Each time, Dear, Sainted Husband would silently implore me to say no. I would direct DSH to fill a bag with whatever we could spare¸ and be thankful that we are able to spare it.

And he would continue to stand there silently; collect the food and leave without a word.

DSH and I would then fight: he would say that we should stop feeding them. He would tell me not to be so naive and trusting that it was coming from need and not convenience. I would argue that we are constantly trying to be good people and do what we believe is right and good. Why turn away from an opportunity to practice what we've been preaching?

Just before Christmas, DSH and I hosted a turkey dinner for a friend and her new partner. We ate only about a quarter of the turkey. After our guests had left, we packed up the turkey and all the leftover trimmings and brought them over to the neighbours across the street.

I'd felt very good about myself: spreading a little cheer during the holiday season.  They'd seemed excited to have a turkey dinner. I was happy to give it to them: I surely wasn't going to be able to eat it, and would be having yet another delicious dinner with all the trimmings in just a few short days.

Fast-forward to Thursday: another wordless note passed through the door. Silent collection and departure.

I talked to my Mom about this once before. And I can't help thinking that her comments were remarkably similar to those of DSH.

And now I wonder: is this what they mean about teaching people to fish? Or, should old acquaintance be forgot?

What do  you think, cyberlovlies?

Love to you...xo


  1. Ashley I am like you too much...and DSH knows I once came bearing tons of food to him years ago.....I've also been known to make peanut butter sandwiches and take juice to a homeless man on a path on my way home from work one day who asked me for food once.I've given it to dear friends over the years out of free will...It's one thing to give your extras, it's another to be asked over and over again...when something else can be done about the situation. Hope my 2 cents helps. Cary

  2. It is wonderful to be generous and help others. However, I see some red flags flying here.

    Are taking advantage of your goodness? Is it easier to ask you than to go to a food bank? You deliver right to their door!

    Interesting that "they" send the oldest son with a note

    Sometimes when we are kind and generous, people do take advantage of us.

    With all of the advice of DSH and Mom and now your blog - what is your heart telling you? Are you being taken advantage of?

  3. I agree with the above.

    It's one thing to ask for help once or twice, but quite another when it's asked multiple times to the point where it is almost expected.

    What you did was really amazing. Good will towards men. But, in the same breath, I do feel like perhaps a cord needs to be cut, and if desperate help is needed, there are other places they can turn to. I am sure they are aware of these places.

    In any case, good on you for doing such a noble thing.
    Happy New Year!

  4. you are getting taken advantage is a wonderful thing what you have done for them but they have taken your kindness and generosity for granted. It is time that they take care of themselves and stop relying on you to do it for them. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to make them help themselves. The world could use more people like you and Ian.
    Love you lots,
    Aunt Lynne

  5. Happy new year! I have come across your blog due to a comment of a friend on facebook. Excuse my words, but if I were you, I would visit my neighbours and have a talk with them about what is going on and if and in which manner they could be helped to help themselves. Make a point that you are happy to help, but they have to understand that this kind of help is nothing that should be taken for granted and that each one is responsable for his/her own life and how to get along with it - on his own. Since it sounds as if you are a very friendly person, I think you will easily find the right words and the right tone speaking to them. However, consider that they might become rude, ungrateful. Don t let yourself get hurt by this then: You tried your very best.