Muffy and Buffy: A holiday story

    You don’t have to give up much to make life a little better for someone else. As you think back on the past year about the things you are grateful for, it’s a good time to consider the things you can do to make someone else thankful.

    Here is a short list of area organizations that you can donate to:

    Hunger relief:Philabundance3616 South Galloway St.Philadelphia, PA 19148(215) 339-0900

    Educational outreach: Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation 1901 Vine St., Suite 111 Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215) 686-5322.>

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    Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church Outreach Program 635 Montgomery Avenue Bryn Mawr, PA 19010 (610) 525-2821, ext. 8819

    Emotional support: Peter’s Place 150 N. Radnor-Chester Rd., Suite F130 Radnor, PA 19087 (610) 687-5150

    It was a few weeks before the holidays, and I was sitting huddled with Muffy and Buffy by the fireplace on Muffy’s back patio. The pool had been emptied and covered a couple of months ago, although we had hardly used it at all that summer because Muffy was trying to stay with her program of energy conservation, and the water had never warmed above sixty-four degrees.

    “We all have to make sacrifices,” Muffy reminded us, in a tone of voice that reminded me of that unfortunate period in our lives when we were Girl Scout leaders.

    “But I’m already using those hideous new curly light bulbs and recycling every darn thing in the house,” said Buffy. “When I put the trash out at the curb last week, there wasn’t even enough to fill a tall kitchen bag.”

    “Do you ever worry about all those Starbucks cups, though?” I asked. I try to be a better person, but often a vision of all the Starbucks cups I have used in my lifetime appears to me in a nightmarish scenario that involves deforestation and sick panda bears.

    “You mean you haven’t switched over to their refillable cups?” asked Muffy.

    “Well, I was going to,” I lied. “But every time I try to do something good, they find out that the good thing causes other bad things. Like they’ll find out that the plastic in the recyclable cup causes dementia or something.”

    “I know what you mean,” agreed Buffy. “I felt so good using my cloth bags at Whole Foods, and then a few weeks ago they found out that unless you wash the cloth bags, they can harbor deadly bacteria! Eeww!”

    “It is a quandary,” said Muffy, who usually liked to poke holes in Buffy’s theories. “Because if you wash and dry the cloth bags, you are using all that water and gas from your washer and dryer.”

    “You could wash them by hand, and hang them to dry,” I said.

    They both looked at me in dismay.

    “Let’s change the subject,” said Muffy. “Instead of kvetching, we should be thinking of all the things we are thankful for. ‘Tis the season for thanks. Here, try some of this new hummus dip and this new organic celery tea.”

    I looked doubtfully at the yellowish-brown glop and watery green drink, and longed for some nachos and a margarita.

    “Well, I’m thankful for my Premier status with United,” reflected Buffy. “And the Red Carpet room. We almost had to give it up this year, but I put my foot down. Life simply wouldn’t be worth living…”

    She didn’t get to finish, of course, because Muffy interrupted her.

    “Honestly, do you not hear anything our president says? We have to make some real sacrifices and help our fellow travelers on this earth. And I don’t mean Premier travelers. Here, I’ve made a list of organizations we can help out this holiday season.”

    She tapped at her Blackberry. “There, I just sent you both a list. We can begin right now.”

    Buffy and I looked at each other and shivered as a sudden flurry of snowflakes swirled around us.

    You have to understand, Muffy actually has business cards that list her as a “professional volunteer.” She is very proud of this, and she should be. She tutors kids from the inner city, she organizes a church soup kitchen, she is on the board of several educational and civic organizations, she goes door-to-door during elections, she is always in charge of some silent auction or another, and she is as good at raising money for worthwhile causes as Mark Zuckerberg is good at inventing Facebook. In fact, I believe she could have invented Facebook if she hadn’t been spent all those years volunteering and helping out at her kids’ schools.

    “Well, I know what I’m thankful for,” I said, as I nibbled at a pita chip with hummus. “I’m thankful there are people like Muffy in the world. People who step up and do the thankless jobs, and help those in need. Let’s see the list and get to it.”

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