At the keyboard again tonight, working on transforming wishes into reality. Still getting requests for help with food - that one hurts my heart the most. Have purchased 11 giftcards just for those type of pleas so far, and today I was able to use our funds to pay the gas bill to keep the heat on for another family. You are touching lives!
Received another two emails today.
With each email that is received and vetted, elfing begins and the balance dips in our Yes, Virginia fund. We have done amazing things so far and still have 2 1/2 weeks left to make our magic.
As you sit around your Christmas tree this weekend, enjoying the warmth of family and the glow of lights, please take a moment to think of those who simply want to provide heat or a meal for their families, or a single gift on Christmas morning - and if you can help our effort, we can help some more people. Every little bit adds up.
These words, gasped 9 times over by Eric Garner as his face was crammed into concrete, his neck wrapped in a chokehold, have become a rallying cry.
These three words may well be the ones that find the tipping point for what decent American citizens are willing to accept from their law enforcement officers.
Tonight, in cities all across the country, people are gathering and marching in protest over the lack of an indictment against the officer whose ego took over and took Mr. Garner's life.
A week ago the flames burned hot when a grand jury refused to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. Witness testimonies varied, there was no video to replay - just a nation divided over who some deemed a "worthless thug who got what he deserved" and others who viewed the officer as "a dirty, over-reactive cop with an itchy trigger finger."
Those flames were fanned when 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot within seconds of a police officer pulling up next to him at a park.
But with the return of no consequences over Garner's murder, those flames have had the gasoline of impotent rage thrown on them and an inferno has erupted.
As it should.
I wrote last week, “this country's history holds that our most important changes; most stunning civil rights victories; most eye opening lessons come only on a wave of blood.”
The blood of too many has been shed, and that the blood is pouring from so many black citizens is simply as wrong as it is unforgivable.
We are seeing much written about “white privilege” of late. Many wanting to deny that it, like racism, even exists; that it is just a liberal media construct designed to divide us.
Bull and shit.
We are divided.
Divided between those whose eyes are open and those who choose to be blind. Between those who acknowledge the disparity in treatment and those who simply revel ignorantly in it. Between those who view themselves as equal to all, and those who set themselves above based on an accident of birth.
White privilege exists. I know it. You know it. Maybe we haven’t ever really thought about it until now, but those readers whose skin just happens to be on the light end of the spectrum have enjoyed the perks of pale. I acknowledge that I am not immediately suspect when I enter a store, a bank, an eatery, hell, ANY PLACE. I acknowledge that I get the benefit of the doubt when pulled over by a cop. I admit I have no earthly idea what it feels like as a mother to worry about your dark skinned son’s safety simply because his skin is dark.
I navigate this world easily because my skin color grants me access, permission, consideration.
And how wrong is that, I ask you?
I also acknowledge that the disparity in treatment exists not simply in the realm of skin color. It lives and breathes in the economic strata of this nation. I have money, ergo I must be a better person. If I had to appear in a courtroom, I could afford a fancy lawyer to have at my side, thus pretty much insuring a lighter sentence for my crime.
That is completely fucked, too. Anyone who commits a crime should be subject to the same scrutiny, laws, and punishments regardless of their bank account. A crime is a crime. It’s not somehow prettier just because it wears nicer shoes. Not every black person is a "thug" or "demon." Not every white person is an angel incapable of meaning to commit a crime.
Ever notice that? Black person commits a crime and they are "worthless," "shit," "gang member." But when a white person does they are immediately afforded terms like "mental issues," "snapped," "disenfranchised." Wrong. Crime is crime.
Change must happen. It simply must. But like any big, lasting alteration to our nation’s character and fabric, it will take time, dedication to purpose, commitment to cause, and the willingness to look the problem dead in the eye and call it out.
Do I think every cop is dirty? Absolutely not. Do I think there are dirty cops? Absolutely, yes. And they must be rooted out BY THE GOOD COPS.
Just as bad Catholics must be rooted out by good Catholics. Bad Muslims must be rooted out by good Muslims. Bad accountants must be rooted out by good accountants. Bad baristas must be rooted out by good baristas. It has to start with those closest to the problem, those who see it daily, know it is wrong, but have yet to speak up for fear of reprisal.
And as that happens, the good, decent people will support them.
We cannot have a country where it is possible to murder an unarmed, nonviolent man, ON VIDEO, and the person who murdered them not be called to account simply because they wear a badge.
Look, our history is bloody. We took what we wanted, we spilled blood to get it. That is an inescapable truth of our founding. But what is happening today seems to echo those beginnings. Killing with impunity. Denying people basic dignity and rights because of their skin color. Treating people as lesser based on personal biases and wrongheaded notions.
Pat Lynch, the president of NYPD’s largest police union took to a microphone tonight to defend Daniel Panteleo – the officer who placed Garner in the chokehold – saying that Panteleo “is literally, literally an Eagle Scout, and I think that story isn’t being told.”
Seriously? I don’t give a flying fuck if he was a GIRL scout in a pink tutu. What relevance does that even have here? That an Eagle Scout can’t commit a crime? Give me a break. Google Mark William Hofman – forger and murderer, Charles Whitman – UT tower gunman, Arthur Gary Bishop – serial killer…
It is apologists like Lynch who stand in the way of rooting this problem out and effecting lasting meaningful change. The degree of tone deaf is stunning. It is insulting.
All life – black, white, rich, poor, religious, atheist – must be valued in the same way. And punishments must be based on behaviors, actions - not skin color, nationality, wallet size. Our symbol of justice – Lady Justice – is sculpted as unseeing, blind to those who come before her. She holds a set of scales intended to dispense justice in a balanced and fair form. That is how it should be. In truth, however, her blindfold is missing, and her scales are constantly dipped to one side.
Impotent rage is a dangerous thing. It moves a person to action, often dangerous action. Let the collective impotent rage this nation is feeling spur us on to productive, meaningful, lasting action.
Because we have had enough violence, and because we are all suffocating on injustice.
A few days ago one of our DGMS regulars (Tracy S) lost her much loved pet, Casey. While there is no rewind button to hit to undo what happened, she is determined to try to help other pet owners who may not know what seemingly innocent foods could take their pet forever.
While I was familiar with a few of these, I had no idea about the rest. Pet owners know: Our dogs always put on their best puppy eyes when they see us eating and it is very easy to melt into them and give them some of what's on our plate. The problem is, our desire to make them happy, and their inability to know good from dangerous, could prove a fatal combination.
Be safe, rather than heartbroken.
I lost my best friend. Please don’t let this happen to yours
On Thanksgiving of this year, my dog Casey got into the trash and ate turkey skin. I had heard it was bad for dogs, but never dreamed it would kill him. He was fine Thursday evening, and Friday morning. By Friday afternoon he had thrown up, and I thought that would teach him not to get into the trash. Friday evening he threw up again, and just laid around, and I thought he would be fine since everything seemed to be out of his stomach. By the time I woke up Saturday, I knew he was really sick. I rushed him to the vet, and even though they did everything they could, he was gone by Sunday morning. He had gotten pancreatitis from the fatty turkey skin and it killed him. What bothers me most is that I didn’t know, and the fact that he had to be in pain, but most dogs hide when they hurt, so I didn’t know. I thought he would be okay.
We all see the posts on Facebook, or on the internet saying not to let your dogs and cats eat certain things, but honestly, have you ever really thought it could KILL your best friend?
Here is a list of some of the things you should never give your pets. It is NOT complete.
•Sugarless gum and candy
•Grapes and raisins
•Onions and garlic
•Fat trimmings and bones
•Turkey skin and gravy
The list goes on. Please, for your pets sake, learn what they shouldn’t have. Better yet, don’t feed your pet “people” food. I know they are all cute and sad looking, wanting your food, but if you want them around for a long time, this is such an easy way to prevent losing them too early.
Please help me spread the word for Casey. He was my best friend, and I lost him because I didn’t know.
Sitting here tonight, working on creating more DGMS Christmas magic for children. I took a brief break to check in on the news of the day and what I found is heartbreaking.
In Tennessee, an ordinary school day turned deadly when two school buses collided, killing an adult aide and two little girls.
In all, 23 children were transported to area hospitals for treatment. Honestly, in viewing the wreckage, I am surprised that number isn't far higher.
While my daughters have never been school bus riders - I always preferred to drive them - it stymies me that a school bus today is still the same school bus I rode in 40 years ago.
Rows of metal, lightly padded seats. That's it, that's all.
Technology has been utilized to advance every area of our lives from the cars we drive to how we communicate to how we cook our food, yet the vehicles we trust to carry our most precious cargo remains unchanged.
We pass laws making seatbelt usage mandatory - Click it or Ticket - yet in every state where I would be stopped and served with a hefty fine, children ride unrestrained to and from school daily.
Arguments state that school buses are safe based on their design. "Compartmentalization," meaning the seats are close together and padded, allows for a child to be flung a short distance into a makeshift airbag. Sorry, I don't buy that. Again, I have been on school buses in recent years for field trips and that "airbag" is nothing but a metal frame with the equivalent of Nerf foam around it. Hell, I'd wager Nerf foam is actually thicker.
Further defense of keeping-things-the-way-they-are includes the occupants sitting high up off the road and away from possible impact. Yeah, unless another school bus Ts it and flips it on its side. Or it hits a concrete retaining wall or overpass. All deadly scenarios that have played out.
And then, of course, comes the money argument. Estimates bandied about are $8,000 - $15,000 to outfit each school bus with seatbelts. I can only assume those seatbelts they priced are woven from rare eagle feathers and the buckles made of gold.
All of these arguments are cold comfort tonight to the parents of two dead children, and the parents of nearly two dozen more who are injured, frightened, and traumatized in Tennessee hospitals.
I realize there are hurdles to any advancements, changes in any arena of life. Logistics, economics, training, behavior modification all come into play.
But if we can progress to the point where we now all carry miniature computers/phone/cameras in our back pockets, surely we can drag school bus safety into the new millennium, too?
Hi everyone - I hope this finds you slowly emerging from your Thanksgiving food coma and looking ahead to a relaxing weekend.
Just wanted to update you and let you know that we have adopted four more children who are being selflessly raised by their grandparents. Money is beyond tight so we are helping with a giftcard for food, and will insure that Santa remembers these children come Christmas morning with something special for each one.
Your donations are being made to beg for mercy through endless searching for the best prices, coupons, free shipping, and imagination!
Do we have room for more in Santa's sleigh? That is completely up to you! Spread the word!
There was never going to be an answer that satisfied everyone. There simply wasn't.
What there was going to be is what we see happening. Anger. Sorrow. Fear. Suspicion. Gloating. Goading.
And at the end of it all, when the collective attention of the spectator-comment-board-Facebook-armchair-jurist rabble is turned by something newer and shinier, all that will remain is this:
Another life is gone too soon.
All evidence presented to the Grand Jury will be released. It will be available for any interested party to wade through and decipher. And in the end, all that will remain is this:
Another life is gone too soon.
Will this be a teachable moment? For police? For media? For the general public? Sadly, I doubt it. The life that was lost did not belong to anyone of import. Just another young black man easily stereotyped as a "thug," "punk," "criminal." And just another police officer just as easily tagged as a "dirty cop."
Sadly, this country's history holds that our most important changes; most stunning civil rights victories; most eye opening lessons come only on a wave of blood. When will we learn without bloodshed? When will we embrace changes without first embracing carnage?
What is the TRUTH in Ferguson? I. Don't. Know. Until the evidence is released and I invest the time, I don't know. What I do know is this: In the moments of their encounter, a life was taken, and another life was altered forever. And the truest answers of what happened went to the grave with one, and remain in the conscience of the other.
To everyone watching Ferguson: If you agree with the decision, don't gloat. If you disagree, violent words online are not going to change the answer any more than will violent action in the streets.
Tonight there will be serious unrest in Ferguson. No, violence is not the answer. But as I go to bed, I fear waking to find that another life, more than one, will be gone too soon.
Because tonight, so many are blatantly celebrating - that has already been documented.
And because tonight, the community of Ferguson is angry - that has already been documented.
And in the end, all that will remain is this:
Another life is gone too soon. And another teachable moment is passing us by on a river of someone else's blood.
Hi everyone - just a quick update. Have spent time this weekend elfing. While there are some sparkly things for little girls, and outdoorsy things for a young Boy Scout, etc, the majority of requests so far are for food.
That, to me, is heartbreaking. And I am stretching our funds as much as possible to provide giftcards to local grocery stores in their respective areas.
To anyone who may immediately think, "What about area food banks?" - a friend today posted about that very thing. Sadly, food banks are stretched to their breaking points, especially at this time of year. She also pointed out something very true, and something I admit I am guilty of doing: Food bank donations are often comprised of what somehow managed to crawl into our own pantries, but that we were happy to get rid of when our child was collecting cans for school or church.
Hunger is embarrassing, it just is. It should not be, but it is. But then, it also should not exist. We can do better than throw cans of near-their-expiration green beans or Rotelle at nameless, faceless people we may never meet.
As the emails I have received highlight - "they" can be "you" in the blink of an eye, through no fault of your own. Life, economics, jobs - they all turn on a dime.
Help if you can. So far we have collected $720. Things are tighter all around this year. Some of you have contacted me directly about sending checks - I will email you privately when those arrive.
I was asked to bring forward the Yes, Virginia/Namaste page so that those unfamiliar with what we do each year could better find it, read it, and share it. So please, spead the link, and spread the word!
This holiday season, the DGMS Blogmunity is coming together once again to help those among us who need a hand keeping the magic of the holidays alive for their children in these difficult economic times.
In the past, you have helped save a kitten by paying for his surgery, raised funds to help Shawn towards her goal in the San Diego 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk, sent a young girl to college by helping to cover her tuition, made an apartment a reality for another DGMS regular, helped cover the emergency vet expenses when Monikka's dog, Bitsy, was attacked, and purchased new mattresses and bedding for another wonderful family.
I am constantly humbled and amazed by the generosity of spirit and true support you all extend whether to one another or to total strangers I bring into the spotlight. Please know I do not come knocking on your hearts without thoroughly vetting a situation or person first. That you trust me for more than just daily laughs, maybe a few tears thrown in here and there, is not something I take lightly or would ever violate.
I know, in the tens of thousands of silent visitors who come here daily, and even in the vocal crew who keep the comments section lively, we have families who are struggling. Parents whose hearts are aching at the thought of not being able to provide their children some cheer this Christmas.
I want to hear from you.
Please share your story with me. And in turn, I will share them with the blogmunity. (Anonymity can obviously be honored when I write.)
And perhaps, just perhaps, through the incredible generosity of the people who make up this blog, we can raise the money to make your holiday a bit brighter.
To those who would share your story, I ask for your honesty. That is paramount in this endeavor. And I would ask for your patience as I vet your situation. Perhaps your child's biggest wish is something simple - like a Barbie or an RC car - yet it is still out of your reach. Perhaps warm clothing would bring smiles.
To those who would donate, I ask for your faith and trust. Faith in the people this blog attracts. Trust that I will see your donations turned into help for real people, with real needs and wishes, and turned into real smiles on real faces.
Donations may be made via Paypalto firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would prefer to write a check, as many have done with their donations in the past, please contact me directly for details. I will keep you apprised as to how we are doing as donations begin to come in.
Our economy is depressing. Family budgets are tighter than ever. But I just don't believe that any child should have the magic of this season stolen from their hearts because of it.
Yes, Virginia, There IS A Santa Claus, because this year - once again, there is a DGMS Blogmunity ready to help him load his sleigh.