She sighed and wrapped a shawl closer around her shoulders. There was a domovoi in this house, but would it come with her if she had to leave it? She had carried the spirits over from the Old Country - but would they follow her into the wilderness if she was to be driven from her home?...
She poked the fire; sparks flew up, embers glowed, white smoke billowed... and in it, three visions came.
A girl hurried along the street, in the first of the three visions. She wore a hat, a coat, warm gloves, fur-edged boots; her breath came like a cloud from her lips. She walked fast, rubbing her mittened hands together, keeping her eyes down on the pavement as she walked.
A door opened and closed nearby, letting out a blast of warm air and a whiff of coffee. The girl paused, looked up, saw the inviting lights of a corner coffee shop. She even thought - she could not be certain, what with the reflections from the window and the gathering winter dusk outside - that she might recognise a familiar face or two inside - perhaps not close friends, but people she knew, who might wave her in as she wandered inside.
As she hesitated, she saw in her mind's eye a woman sitting alone by a fireside, her face sad, and it came to her that these might be the last days in that house.
The girl shook her head slightly.
"Perhaps I don't need another latte today," she murmured.
(Can YOU do without another latte today? Take the $3 and donate them, here)
The vision faded, and another came in its place. A young man stood in a florist's shop, hesitating, turning around and staring at the displays. It was deep dark December, and he figured that a bunch of desperately out-of-season flowers might cheer up his brand-new girlfriend - but did not know what to get, or what she really liked, or whether she liked cut flowers at all... it was a gesture, no more than that. One bouquet of flowers, mostly red and white, dissolved for a moment into a flash of sparkles and embers in a cooling fireplace, with a woman's sad face revealed in its shadows, sitting alone.
The young man looked past the bouquets, out into the streets where people hurried past wrapped in winter woollies and pursuing their own business.
He was not alone. He and his girl had one another. There was one thing she might like better than flowers right now - a gift of time, time spent together, talking, dreaming, learning to believe in love and in one another.
"Perhaps I don't need a bunch of flowers for that," he murmured.
(Can YOU do without a flower arrangement for the next couple of weeks? Take the $30-50 and donate here
A third vision. A woman with too much on her plate as always opened a fridge door and surveeyed the contents. There was enough there to scrape a meal together, but she could see her kids turning up their noses at the "leftover" turkey or hearty vegetable soup, and it would all need TIME, anyway, and little Johhny needed to be HERE, and little Jane needed to be THERE, and the car needed to go in for a service anyway, and wouldn't it just be so much easier, oh dear GOD, wouldn't it be so much easier to pick up the phone and call up the local pizza place and have two large pepperoni pizzas delivered with a side of garlic bread and a couple of sodas - at least it would get the kids out of her hair...
The fridge door blinked once, twice, and she glimpsed the face of a woman sitting alone by a dying fire, with bright eyes.
At least there were no kids to yap and yammer...
The woman by the fridge sighed, reaching for the vegetables.
"This is better for them anyway," she murmured, "they can do without pizza this once."
(Can YOU do without a couple of large pizzas and home delivery? Take the $40 and donate here
There's someone who needs your help out there. In ten years, or two, or next year, or next month, it might be YOU who finds yourself in need. You hope that there will be angels coming to knock at YOUR door in that hour. But right now - it's someone else's turn. If you can do without some small luxury within the next few days to help a fellow human being in need, please consider it.
Anything. No matter how small. If you only decide against downloading another song for your iPod and donate that buck to this cause, it's another dollar towards keeping someone's roof over her head.