December 20, 2006
There will be moments this holiday season when you are not busy cursing out the elf at the mall who says you are too big to sit in Santa's lap, or struggling to get your poobrador to pose with the battery-operated blinking antlers or making false vows that you will drink club soda between each Christmas cocktail so as not to get too drunk and want to roll in the manger hay that you will remember it is the season for giving and thinking of those less fortunate than yourself. I have developed a system for this, which I call the Doggie Bag Theory — finding that little bit left over when you're full that you can give to someone else.
Since my beloved Bichon Frise of 15 years died this summer I have been at a loss for what to do with my doggie bags, literally — the extra prime rib from The Palm or free range chicken from Fresno or pork loin from Della Femina. I debated bringing these leftovers to ARF but feared those dogs may be on strict diets or that I might quickly become referred to as that crazy "bag" lady who smells strangely like Peter Luger sauce.
What I actually have is some extra dog love to give. I've put out the word that I am happy and available to dogsit for my friends who are in a pinch and am going over to volunteer at ARF, if not to feed the dogs filet mignon at least to take them for a walk.
I think enough time has gone by that they have forgiven me for that time my friend Ellen and I took two rescue dogs out for a walk in the woods behind the facility, got totally lost, ended up hitchhiking back to arrive well after closing to find a child in tears who was hoping to adopt one of our four legged wards. I just have to look at the dogs in their cages with little heart signs which read, "I've been here too long," and can dissolve into a puddle like Frosty in the green house.
I believe many people have their own doggie bags, that extra something wonderful they don't need and could give to the community. Who doesn't have a closet, basement or attic that has hidden treasures we will most likely never use? There is a plethora of charitable thrift stores or churches or synagogues to which you can donate items.
Remember that they need to be nice, not junk. I mean you wouldn't take home a soggy half tuna sandwich in a doggy bag would you? Or how about time? I know we're all super busy, but if we have time to watch the entire first two seasons of "Grey's Anatomy" on DVD, I think we could spare an hour a week to do something meaningful. We party at benefits all summer long and barely remember the cause for which they were designed to raise money.
Contribute to your passion whether it is nature or art or children or use your time as a volunteer for an organization which assists families affected by cancer or cares for seniors who are lonely or donates money to impoverished writers to pay our heating bills.
In the end, the Hamptons is still a collection of people who live here all or some of the time and how we treat one another, our animals, our environment, and our shared cultural space will ultimately define us, as will incriminating nativity scene photos.
So from me and the twenty-seven dogs living in my house, a very merry Christmas to you all.
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