After starting work at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, I have had to reevaluate how I see the world. For instance: I can’t hear the rain without thinking of the people living in it, I can’t leave food uneaten on my plate because of those who have none, and I can’t buy a new top without feeling guilty about how many clothes I already own. This is why (with the Christmas season in full swing), I am looking at the holidays under a new light.
When I was a child, Christmas was magical. It was a time to spend with family, eat food, watch corny movies, and receive presents. Probably my favorite Christmas tradition actually comes on Christmas Eve. The whole family decorates our street with luminaries and then we make a large meal together. After this, my mother and I will always go on a walk to see all the Christmas decorations. We bundle up with long-johns, hats, boots, scarves, and big winter coats. The walk probably lasts for about an hour but we are always anxious to get back inside afterwards. Our toes are frozen and our lips are chapped. Even with these obvious negatives, I love that traditional frozen walk.
But what about this year? How will I react to the frigid cold after meeting the people who sleep in it? Will my Christmas Eve walk be different? I hope so. I don’t want to forget about the homeless men and women just because it is Christmas Eve. My perspective (and everyone else’s) needs to change about homelessness. The issues of homelessness should not appear every year around Thanksgiving and then fade into the background before New Year’s. It should be ever in the forefront of our mind.
While discussing Christmas traditions with one of our Overcomers, on of the men in the Mission’s long-term program, it became apparent that Christmas is about family. He talked about being woken up in the early hours of Christmas day by his older brother and then waiting not so patiently by the tree until their mother finally woke up. While listening, I couldn’t help but notice that this story was wholly centered around his Christmas Past. What about Christmas Present and Christmas Future? He made no mention of his current traditions. This is because his happiest Christmas memories are in the past. I hope that someday this man is able to make spectacular Christmas memories in his future.
My cherished Christmas traditions can be relived for years to come. All I need is my family and some cold weather. But there are people (people that I see and talk to every day) that are not able to go home for the holidays. So this Christmas, please remember those who have less. There are many people who cannot afford Christmas gifts. Not only this, but they may not even have contact with their loved ones. Remember the forgotten this Christmas by donating to the Mission so that we can continue to be family for the people who have none.