Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Good King Wenceslas

While I have other things on my mind currently, I wanted to take a moment to talk about something else I've been thinking about. Since Thanksgiving, I've had a CD of Christmas music on repeat in my car (yes, I'm one of those people). On that CD is a rather nice rendition of Good King Wenceslas, which has long been a favorite of mine (and easy to sing). Whether you hold with academics that argue it's foolish to be a Christmas song when the original tune was a Spring song or not, it still has an important message that I feel many people in the commercialization of Christmas ignore: taking care of others. Let's take a moment to look at the lyrics:

Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the feast of Stephen,
when the snow lay round about,
deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cruel,
when a poor man came in sight,
gathering winter fuel.
Hither, page, and stand by me.
If thou know it telling:
yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?
Sire, he lives a good league hence,
underneath the mountain,
right against the forest fence
by Saint Agnes fountain.
Bring me flesh, and bring me wine.
Bring me pine logs hither.
Thou and I will see him dine
when we bear the thither.
Page and monarch, forth they went,
forth they went together
through the rude wind's wild lament
and the bitter weather.
Sire, the night is darker now,
and the wind blows stronger.
Fails my heart, I know not how.
I can go no longer.
Mark my footsteps good my page,
tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
freeze thy blood less coldly.
In his master's step he trod,
where the snow lay dented.
Heat was in the very sod
which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
wealth or rank possessing,
ye who now will bless the poor
shall yourselves find blessing
In this holiday season, remember to take care of others, even if they aren't family. You don't have to be Christian to do this (I'm certainly not) or rich. Sometimes you can do something simple to help others out. Are you crafty? Can you knit or crochet? Children's homes and homeless shelters are always accepting of gloves, scarves, hats, etc.. If you don't have the funds or the skill, volunteer work is always appreciated by nonprofits that work hard to help people in the winter months. My friend Veronica made a rather thorough list if you want to donate money but aren't sure what charities are actually helpful and not exclusionary (Salvation Army is widely known for it's homophobic discriminatory practices). Here is her (unedited, for your pleasure) post on charitable giving:

So it's that time of year again where the bell-ringers are out guilt tripping people, and just like I did last year, I want to point out that the Salvation Army is incredibly homophobic and transphobic, PETA is a bag full of diseased dicks, FCK H8 is basically just a money-making fraud, and Autism Speaks has been denounced by the autistic community. I listed some breast cancer charities a while ago that are worth donating to, but I also would like you to consider donating to these other charities if you feel like donating this holiday season: the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Goodwill Industries (SA's non-asshole counterpart), Oxfam International, The SEED Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Toys for Tots, or the ASPCA. Also consider giving to no-kill animal shelters or donating clothing to trans exchanges. Remember also that the things people most need in homeless shelters are things people usually don't think of, like toiletries, feminine hygiene products, and first aid things like cortisone cream or Neosporin. If you're doing "care baskets" for homeless people on the street, remember not to add food, but rather money (or the items I mentioned above), since homeless people have allergies too and they don't have access to medical services like we do. Okay, I'm done. Give wisely, my friends.