My post from a year ago focused on the changing traditions of Christmas during my lifetime. As my life and the individuals that interacted changed so did my Christmases. Although, the tradition of going to Christmas Eve church services remained constant.
Christmas is the period of the year filled with hustle and bustle in preparing for the holiday. Whether or not we exchange gifts, there is the decorating of the house, attending parties, and holiday food preparation. It’s a wild and sometimes stressful period leading up to the grand day of celebration. No matter our religious affiliation, the holidays are the time to reflect the true meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. We expect to spend these celebrations with family and friends.
Not everyone is fortunate to celebrate and enjoy all this holiday cheer. Many people are alone with no family or friends. According to several sources, there is an excess of 500,000 homeless in the United States. Although many of our charities, churches, and synagogues provide food, clothing etc. during the holidays, the homeless still spend the holiday alone. The individual incarcerated spends the holidays with little or no celebration. Many individuals in nursing facilities spend a lonely holiday because their family lives a long distance or they have no family.
I know of several widows and widowers in my church that also has no families near them. This time of the year they disappear and return after Christmas. We hear the stories of families who have suffered a death during the holidays. This time of the year only reminds them of their loss. My church is open to the LGBT community, yet, many of them their families turned their back on them. These are just a few of the examples that prevent so many from enjoying the holidays. There are so many more.
We know of these people around us, but are we too wrapped up in our preparations to notice them? Do we move past their invisibility to rush toward our celebrations? Do we ignore them because it takes too much time to get involved? Our places of worship never forget these people, but do we volunteer to help or donate to offset the cost? Does it make us uncomfortable to worry or get involved with these people?
Perhaps you are or have been one of these individuals as I have. Perhaps you understand the misery and loneliness. Have you experienced the solitude of the holidays when no one acknowledged your existence? Have you spent the holidays grieving? At some level, we all have and we know these heartaches.
My plea this Christmas is to take time out of our busy schedule and acknowledge these people. Bring a widow or widower to Christmas services. Visit someone in a nursing facility or hospital. Express condolences and listen to those who are grieving. Include someone without family in your festivities. Don’t walk past the indigent, give them a smile. Recognize their humanity and give to their welfare. In whatever way you can, don’t forget the people who are suffering this time of the year.
As Christians, we believe Christmas is celebrating the birth of the Incarnate God; Jesus. We know of His purpose and His sacrifice for us. We know this is the time when we celebrate His birth and the beginning of His ministry. A ministry of giving love, care to the downtrodden, the sick, and forgiveness to all. He told us to love our neighbor as our selves. He told us to feed the hungry, visit the sick, clothed the naked. In the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus said. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me…” What better way than to give our love to those that suffer this time of the year.
From my family to yours, may the Blessings of Christmas be yours
and may you have a Healthy New Year