BR.christmasmeal.122617-1-7.jpg

Volunteer Mandy Dreznick, right, grabs a plate to pass out on Christmas day at St. Vincent de Paul downtown in 2017.

Some of you are probably sitting there wondering why you ate so much on Thanksgiving Day. And, you are thinking about why you can’t stop eating today.

For some that’s the rub after the greatest food-social day of the year. We talk about how much we ate and how fat we feel days later. It’s part of the American culture.

On the other hand, there are those who have just plowed through the Thanksgiving holiday much like they have every other day. For them holidays, birthdays and all the rest are the same — just another struggle to get by.

This is the season folks, like no other, to start focusing on those that need help. Yes, we ought to do it all of the time, but if you have to start, this is the time to begin.

Last December a group of my classmates and I did our usual thing of giving money to a group of students from our high school who wouldn’t have a Christmas if someone didn’t reach out to them. It is the best thing we do all year.

In one instance, we could not reach one of the families that was listed for us to help. The school provides the contact for us. It was not their fault. It was just one of those things. We felt horrible.

So, we finally went to the next name on the list. It was a young man living with his grandmother. There was a heartbreaking reason he was there. A couple weeks earlier his mother had been killed in a car accident and now he was in his grandmother’s care.

Ed Pratt: The examples of men shape the boys

The grandmother was overcome with gratitude when my classmates showed up out of nowhere to offer her grandson the financial means to have a decent Christmas. Now, the compassion of his grandmother could have been enough. But, the women said, had we not showed up the boy would not have had anything for Christmas.

Some of my classmates claimed divine intervention stepped in because the young man would not have gotten our gift had the other child been located. While we felt great for the child that received the gift and his grandmother, we felt just as bad for the child that was left out.

You know what else. It’s just good to give with an open heart. Last Saturday I passed up one of those groups of children standing at big street intersections where children are asking for a donation for uniforms, band instruments or to travel to a basketball tournament. Sometimes their presentation is a little off putting.

Seconds after I drove by the group, I glanced by in my rear-view mirror. I just happened to see the face of a little boy who reminded me of me when I picked pecans before elementary school in the morning. And, the look I had on my face when I went to sell them to Mrs. King.

Ed Pratt: We can't escape reminders of mortality, even at the happiest of reunions

I turned around and returned. I reached out the window and gave them a donation. I didn’t worry where it’s going or what it was being spent on. I gave the donation with my heart and that was enough.

My biggest story was actually done by my wife, but I was sort of involved. Years ago, she was approached by a man who was down on his luck and begging for money near a restaurant.

She told him “I won’t give you money, but I will buy you a meal.” She accompanied him into the old Piccadilly Restaurant on Government Street in Baton Rouge. They had a conversation and he discovered her last name was Pratt.

“I know an Ed Pratt,” he said, adding that he had played on the junior varsity basketball team at McKinley High with an Ed Pratt. “Are you related to him?” he asked. Wow, what’s the chances of that? I understand he appeared to light up when she told him she was married to me.

I was stunned when she told me what happened. I was happy for her and for him. My wife and family have given me a number of incredible gifts and all of them have come laced with love.

But, the gift to my long and so lost friend is right up there at the top of list.

In this holiday season, find it in your heart to find someone and help someone. And, then think about doing it as often as possible.

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at epratt1972@yahoo.com.