Thursday, November 26, 2009

An unexpectedly eventful Thanksgiving

I often lament that I do nothing special for others on Thanksgiving. I've threatened year after year to volunteer at a homeless shelter or something, but doing that's becoming more difficult: Everyone requires an application for volunteering, and it really creates the impression that it would just be easier if you were a regular volunteer anyway. Doing good is, frankly, a pain in the butt. That said, I think every Orthodox Christian has a "crush" (if you will) on a Catholic saint, and mine is on St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent was known for his charity (and for a personality that made him, like volunteering, a pain in the butt, but he said that if it wasn't for God's grace then he'd be utterly intolerable), and he espoused doing good as the need presented itself to you instead of relying heavily on charity (not that one shouldn't give, obviously). And thus, our story begins.

Our Thanksgiving reservations were for 2:00PM, so naturally we were ready to go by 1:00 (over-efficiency at its finest). Around 1:30, I'd run out of ideas to keep myself occupied and put in a request to drive around for a little while. Chris, apparently also bored out of his mind, agreed, so we took a very circuitous route to the Paisano ... and just happened to spy a little boy, maybe 2 or 3 years old, wandering the streets with no adult in sight. To sum it up as stupidly as possible, not good.

Chris turned the car around, and we found him in the front yard of a house for sale. Chris went to go talk to him because my track record with children is hit or miss (upon first sight I'm either greeted with intrigue or hardcore screaming, but every child thinks Chris is just a large baby). Poor little guy was too frightened to say anything, but he did nod when Chris asked him a yes or no question with an answer in the affirmative. Just as I was about to get ready to start knocking on doors and asking if anyone was missing a son, Chris called 911 (probably a more efficient solution). My major contribution to the proceedings lay in the fact that anything that fascinates me also fascinate small children, so I presented the little boy with a burr oak acorn. If you've never seen a burr oak acorn, then you must know that the things are massive--it filled his tiny hand. Eventually he popped the stem off and spent his time trying to put it back together while we waited for help.

If you want something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving, be thankful for the law enforcement officials who are on call on holidays. A Texas Ranger (this kid has no idea how awesome that is) and his wife showed up in their own truck to take care of him. Last we saw of them, the three of them were off to drive around and look for his home. Chris plans to call the sheriff tomorrow to make sure everything turned out okay. We seem to have caught the kiddo at a critical moment: the thrill of escape was over, panic had set in, and the responsible adults hadn't noticed he was gone. Family occasions seem like a tremendously likely time to lose children: You get occupied with food and football, and while you're distracted el niƱo makes a break for the Davis Mountains. Actually, he was heading in the direction of Valentine, so I guess he wanted to see Prada Marfa.

So that's how I ended up having my Thanksgiving wish to help out fulfilled. I hope no one else's Thanksgiving involved 911 calls, Texas Rangers, or lost children.

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