Giving thanks 2010 style

    A homeless man taught me not to delay or over-think when an opportunity for generosity presents itself.

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a time for eating copious amounts of tasty food and being grateful for blessings, both planned and happenstance.

    For example, I marveled at a nearly full moon twice within a 12-hour period last Friday; in the western sky on my way to work at 4 a.m. and later when it rose in the east over the Ben Franklin Bridge while the sun was still up.

    As night fell and moonlight streamed into my window, it felt like the perfect start to a relaxing weekend heading into the holiday week.

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    I engaged in my Saturday morning ritual of going out for coffee. While sipping caffeine, I watched a homeless man dig through several bags of trash on the sidewalk just outside the coffee house and decided to buy something for him to eat.

    So, I turned back to the pastry case to see what wasn’t loaded with fat and sugar. By the time I finally settled on an item and looked outside again, the man was gone.

    Guilt and sadness washed over me like a sudden illness.

    Why did I hem and haw instead of going outside immediately to ask if he wanted a bagel or something else?

    Was I afraid that this man in soiled clothing, who probably smelled really bad, might follow me inside and upset the vibe in the coffee house, thus turning me into an outcast myself?

    Or, was I adhering to the belief that handouts serve only as a momentary solution to the vexing problem of hunger in America?

    Although I make monetary contributions to food pantries and other charities, this is the time of year to become directly involved with groups that help feed hungry men, women and children.

    Therefore, I’m giving thanks this holiday week for a homeless man whose lasting image is prodding me to do much less navel gazing and, as the Brits say, “Get on with it.”

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