Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Giving Thanks

It's the Thanksgiving long weekend here in Canada. Our Summer dissolved into Autumn a week ago, followed by Winter barging its way in, long before it's entrance on stage was expected. So, it was in the midst of frigid wind gusts, flurries and the cold that I stood in line yesterday at a mattress donation programme with the Mother of the Congolese family which has, more or less, been absorbed into my own.

We arrived at the location at noon - The Mother, her 7 year old son (who has latched on to me as a father figure in a family with four sisters and an 8 month old brother) and myself - waiting for the place to open at one o'clock. We were not the first three people there, and, by quarter to the hour, the place was bustling with people. Most of the crowd appeared to be from various African refugee communities, and there were a half dozen or so Aboriginal people there. I was the only white person.

The system worked as follows: you needed to have a requisition form from some agency such as the refugee board, etc., which stated what your needs were. My friend had a form for two queen sized mattresses. At one o'clock, a man gathered all the forms and took approximately 15 minutes to organise them according to the dates on each requisition, by which the order was established as to who got to go first and so on (oldest letters first). My friend's letter was dated in July. After this, the man would call out the names one by one, handing the used mattresses out according to the order.

The whole process too ages. Many of the people there seemed to know one another. There was some light laughter and so forth, but, for the most part, people just stood there, shuffling in the cold, many wrapped up in layer upon layer of traditional clothing. I must confess that I was a bit chilly too, having given my jacket to my friend's son to wear as he was freezing, but wanted to stay with me instead of waiting in the car. I was introduced to several people, shaking hands, extending warm smiles. Many of those I met spoke only Swahili or French, so I conversed in the latter, getting some much needed practice in.

Finally, our turn came. Unfortunately, however, they were down to one queen mattress which was not looking to be all that great. The quality of each depended entirely on the luck of the draw. I saw one Aboriginal man walk away with a gorgeous king sized mattress with pillow top earlier, and another African family take away an amazing queen box set and mattress. So, luck was not my friends on this day, but at least she left with something. Behind us there were still another dozen or so people waiting. Like my friend, they will have to come back and do the whole process over again in a few weeks.

So, as Thanksgiving is upon us here in the Great White North, I am thankful for so many things. I am thankful for all that I have, especially my friends and family, between which I often do not distinguish as both groups mean the world to me. I am thankful to be in a position where I am able to help others, and I am thankful for those others who also offer their help. The generosity towards the family of which I write has been extended through many dear friends and wonderful people. I am thankful for my worst experiences in life and the horrors that I have witnessed as they have kindled an immense hope withing my resolve rather than extinguishing it. With all adversity comes a lesson through which we are able to become stronger, and by way of all our actions, we are able to make change in this world.

In closing, I wish you all peace, health, happiness and hope, and I also wish you my gratitude for reading my thoughts and the things you do to make the world a better place.


  • At 8:01 p.m. , Blogger Catvibe said...

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and new Congolese family. They are lucky to have your friendship and help. And you, your thoughts and ideas, I'm thankful for them. The world IS a better place for people like you.


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