Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Tipping the Balance—Either Way

According to the Talmud, all of us ought to consider the world as being equally divided into good and evil. That way, we will regard our own actions as important. If we act evilly, we will tip the world onto the side of evil and all Humankind will suffer, but if we perform good deeds, we will tip the world onto the side of good, and all Humankind will benefit.

“Don’t A T’ing Like Dis Make Ya Feel Good?”

Comedians Jimmy Durante and Eddie Cantor were very giving of their time to good causes. On New Year’s Day of 1943, Mr. Durante met Mr. Cantor while taking a walk. “Eddie,” Mr. Durante said, “I’m just thinkin’. This must be a tough time for the guys over there in that hospital. Here it’s New Year’s Day, they’re sick, some of ’em have amputations. What do ya say we go over and entertain?” The two comedians rehearsed for a short time, then entertained at the hospital from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Afterward, Mr. Durante said hoarsely to Mr. Cantor, “Eddie, tell me, don’t a t’ing like dis make ya feel good?”

Stranded in Kent, Ohio

In Kent, Ohio, early in his vaudeville days, W.C. Fields found himself stranded. (At this time, he was still being victimized by tour managers who would abscond with their performers’ salaries.) He had six dollars, sold his coat for two dollars, then went to the railroad station to inquire about the fare to New York. The railroad agent told him that it was just over $10. (Ten dollars in 1894 was the rough equivalent of over $200 in the year 2000.) “Well, I guess I’m stuck,” Mr. Fields said. “I’ve got eight dollars.” The agent asked if he was an entertainer, and on hearing that Mr. Fields was, he said, “People don’t put much trust in you folks, do they?” (At this time, being an entertainer was about as low on the social scale as a person could be.) “We’re used to it,” Mr. Fields said. The agent then gave Mr. Fields $10 and said, “I’ve always wondered what there was to that story. When you get a little ahead, send this back.” That rare act of kindness impressed Mr. Fields so much that he sat on a bench and cried. Two years later, Mr. Fields was finally able to repay the debt. On Christmas Eve, 1896, he sent $20 to the railroad agent ($10 was for “interest”), then he stood in line at a free soup kitchen for a Christmas dinner. After Mr. Fields became a huge success, he looked up the agent, as did other famous show people who learned what the agent had done for Mr. Fields.

What’s Something Good to Do Around Christmas — or Anytime?

My sister Brenda Kennedy wrote this on a Christmas card to me: “For Christmas this year we each, including the grandkids, filled a bookbag full of water, washcloths, notebook, two pens, two pair of socks, tooth, toothpaste, one roll of toilet paper, Bandaids, Chapstick, granola bars, pencil box filled with candy, tampons, pads and baby wipes. Then we filled the bags up the rest of the way with single bags of chips. Everyone will find a homeless person or someone in need to donate their bag to.” What a great idea!

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