A final column from Boston Globe columnist Brian McGrory
So, a couple of expressions of thanks in this, my last column, at least for now.
First and foremost, thank you, Globe readers, for what you’ve done yet again on behalf of that extraordinary organization called Christmas in the City. I mentioned last Wednesday that old friend Jake Kennedy was once again short of gifts, thousands of gifts, for his annual party for homeless children and his Christmas drive to help the poor. Readers responded in droves.
You flooded the organization’s website. You jammed the phones at Kennedy’s physical therapy clinic in Downtown Crossing. Hundreds of you gave $5 and $10, as much as you could afford, and it was extraordinary. One gentleman walked up to Jake as he was working over a patient, handed him an envelope, and walked away.
“Wait for a receipt,” Jake called after him.
“Don’t need it,” the guy said.
When Kennedy thumbed through the envelope, he counted $1,000 in cash.
A Chestnut Hill real estate agent e-mailed to say she was in a Newton toy store, The Learning Express, Wednesday morning, and ran into Steve Grossman, the state treasurer, with toys piled up at the counter for Christmas in the City. Another customer asked if he would deliver some for her, then another, and finally the store owner filled two huge bags and asked Grossman to drop them off.
A couple of downtown financiers put the touch on their friends and came up with $6,500 in cash. Out in the suburbs, George Grey parked a big pickup truck outside his business, Lexington Toyota, to collect toys. Come Wednesday, he had to put a second one out, then a third, and a fourth. “It’s like someone turned a spigot on,” Grey said. It went on all week, all weekend, up to the Sunday afternoon event and beyond.
In total, you showered Jake with nearly $100,000 in cash and thousands of gifts, making the event a raging success, 4,000 homeless kids made to feel like the holidays have magic, that life offers joy. “We are so blessed to be a part of this, to see this as Christmas,” Jake Kennedy said this week. “It brings out the best in everyone.”
All of which explains, at least in part, the bittersweet sentiments I feel in leaving this space today. A metro column is, bar none, the best journalism job in Boston, one of the best in America, regular space and freedom of voice in a paper with a readership as sophisticated, dedicated, and passionate as the Globe’s.
I’ve treasured the tips that arrive from all quarters: police officers, social workers, nurses, business leaders. I’ve treasured the people who have invited me into their homes and their lives. I’ve treasured the opportunity to point out the ridiculousness of exorbitant corporate salaries and uptight suburbs. I’ve treasured most of all giving voice to those who might not otherwise have it: the dying gas station attendant in Cambridge beloved by his customers who paid to fly his body home; the Mattapan mother who faced foreclosure years after her son was shot and paralyzed. Readers stopped that from happening.
And now Globe publisher Chris Mayer has offered me the editorship of this paper, an unorthodox selection for him, an unusual path for me. I refrained from telling him he’s nuts. He politely refrained from saying the same thing to me.
I’m jumping at this for a variety of reasons. I love the Globe. I love my native Boston. I know well that my talented colleagues do vital work, holding powerful people accountable, telling fascinating tales, offering arresting photographs, creating powerful graphics, producing extraordinary videos, in print and on screens.
It’s a tough time in newspapers, but the journalism at the Globe is thriving in the face of steep odds, because of great people, the staff and the people who read us.
This column has been the richest privilege of my professional life, and for that, I want to thank you. This next job will be the greatest responsibility. What they have most in common is a bedrock commitment to the well-being of this community, and that will never change.