Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Labor Day Holiday and Santa Claus is Coming to Town

The Labor Day Holiday and Santa Claus is Coming to Town

"This is for all the lonely people thinking that life has passed them by."


On a long holiday weekend, like Labor Day, it is easy to forget about people who don't have family or close friends.

Several years ago, I lived on a rural road and a divorced man lived nearby. On every holiday or long weekend, he would lock himself in his house and play loud music all day. He never played music any other time.

He was trying to ignore the holiday.

We always invited him to our house and he always refused. It was easier for him to ignore the day instead of spending it with people having a good time.

He was my reminder that holiday weekends are not joyous for everyone.

Some people never have a family connection. Every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, my late father would go to a "sleeping room" hotel in downtown Cincinnati and hand out cheap bottles of champagne.

The men (I never saw any women) were poor and usually drunks. Dad had come from a similar neighborhood and had done well. The men were proud of Dad's success and appreciated that he remembered them.

Dad took my sister and me to glimpse a world quite different from our suburban home.

Dad's gift was often the only one the men received. I'm not sure giving champagne to alcoholics was a great idea, but it was something they appreciated.

It always struck me that those poor and lonely men loved the seasonal holidays. They would dress up in their nicest clothes and come down in the lobby or hang out on the street.

Dad's gesture meant a lot to men struggling to get through life.

It's easy to forget that there are people who would be thrilled to have a bottle of $3 champagne.

My father also made holiday visits to one of the richest men in Cincinnati. He was also one of the loneliest. He had flunkies but did not have any friends. He had alienated his children and was a tough guy to get along with.

Dad visited him on a regular basis.

Dad would bring him a copy of the Racing Form, and they would discuss the horses. The few minutes of human interaction made the man's day. He would occasionally turn off his gruff persona and become sweet and kind.

My father was practically an orphan, and it gave him an appreciation for the people society had forgotten, on both sides of the tracks. Lonely people often put on a tough exterior and it is hard to reach them.

It is definitely worth the effort.

Giving and paying homage is what every holiday, even the "minor" holidays, are supposed to be about. The giver gets more than the person who receives.

When I was very young, songwriter Haven Gillespie used to frequent my father's bar. Gillespie wrote many famous songs including, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

If a child sang "Santa Claus," Mr. Gillespie gave the child a silver dollar.

I sang the song every time I saw him. It was a sure money maker but even at age 6 or 7, I realized that Mr Gillespie took great joy in giving the silver dollar.

He liked that his song was famous, but he really liked that he had money to share. Giving is what made the holidays for him.

More people die of loneliness than any disease. Reaching out to someone could make a major difference in their life. It is also a blessing for the giver.

During the holiday weekend and all year round, we need to show lonely people that life has not passed them by.

The Poll

The following are the results from last week's poll:

1. Should tournament poker games be legal or illegal?
Legal - 76%
Illegal - 16%
Undecided - 8%

2. Should prostitution be legal or illegal?
Legal - 60%
Undecided - 24%
Illegal - 16%

This week there are two poll questions:

1. Have you ever invited a neighbor to share a holiday with you?

2. What is your favorite holiday?

To vote in this week's poll follow the link below. The poll will be on the left hand side of the web page.

Weekly Poll


Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers, and What to Do When You Win the Lottery

Son of a Son of a Gambler is on its way to the publisher. We will release information next week on how you can own a copy of a limited first print copy of the book.

Don McNay is the Chairman of the Board for McNay Settlement Group in Richmond, Ky. He is author of the soon to be published book: Son of a Son of a Gambler, Winners, Losers, and What to Do When You Win the Lottery. You can write to him at or read other things he has written at Don's award winning column is syndicated to over 200 publications.

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