For much of my life, Christmas has been a time of family gatherings, friends, gifts, parties, decorations, snow, and the scent of pine. It was also a time of nostalgia for previous Christmases, on which time had already conferred a rosy glow.
Christmas, now, is a time of reflection--thoughts about the present as well as the past. It's about appreciation for all that went well in my life, expectation that today is a good day, and gratitude for all that surrounds me. The things in my life may not look like much to other eyes. My possessions lean toward the scanty rather than the opulent, but I have a computer to write with, a studio in which I paint, instruments to play on when the mood strikes me, and I am sheltered from the Christmas rain that is falling as I write.
I can't help but think of the homeless right here in this town that have no shelter, and to whom Christmas must be just another day in which to struggle to keep warm and dry, to stay safe, to find food, and to try to find anything at all that is good in the circumstances they are in.
Here I am, warm, dry, and well-fed, not in need; and there they are, cold, uncomfortable, abandoned by life. I have done little to help any of them beyond giving a dollar when I pass near someone who is holding a sign, "Hungry, will work for food."
One of my friends, seeing me do this, asked me why. "You don't know what they'll do with it. They'll probably just go drink it up."
"Perhaps," I answered, "but it's not my business what they do with it; it's only my business that they need it."
She thinks I'm crazy.
But giving is giving. If you attach strings to it, then it isn't giving. I would give much more if I could.
If I have a prayer for this Christmas, it's to be able to be of more help than I have been to people who are in need.
Why is it that for most of us it seems to be easier to help people in a far-off foreign land than it is to help those who suffer right under our noses in our own home town?