And then, there is the downside. Many people are not able to celebrate Christmas with a bunch of presents and decorations. They understand a child born to poverty; we should remember them as we remember the birth of the Christ. When I was a single mom with very little disposable income one of the ways my kids and I would celebrate the season was to drive through neighborhoods with all the light displays. A Jewish family lived in one of the neighborhoods and they would decorate their house with blue and white lights in the shape of the Star of David for Hanukah. They celebrated in their own way the magical joy of the season. Those who could afford to provide those decorations did so for the joy of all who could not afford this luxury. Because of their generosity, we could all share in the beauty of the season.
I do think this time of year inspires people to look at their circumstances, rich or poor, and truly feel blessed. This is different than Thanksgiving when we count our blessings; this is actually feeling blessed and happy. People reach out to those without as much with kindness and generosity unmatched at any other time of year. One year a homeless young man managed to find himself in the community I served. He was only 19, and had really no place to go. The entire community pitched in and found him odd jobs to earn some cash. The Ministerial Alliance provided him with a place to stay, the Masonic Lodge provided him with some clothes, and my church provided him with a coat, hat and gloves. If he had desired to stay in the community, we could have found him a job and a place to live. But better than that, he talked to his mother on the phone, and the community chipped in and got him a bus ticket to where she lived, a pay-as-you-go phone, and pocket money for the trip. Even those who didn’t have very much, still shared what they had. Does this always happen when we have someone roll through town? No, but there was something about the circumstances and it being the week before Christmas that inspired us all to lay aside our differences and work together to show a young man that he shouldn’t give up on the world just yet, there really are people who still care.
I celebrate these types of stories and relive them over and over again. This is the time of year we can celebrate, can choose happiness, intentionally. Intentional happiness is making a choice to not focus on what we don’t have or can’t afford, and focusing on the Spirit of the Season, which I believe is there because of one small child, born in poverty, who came to bring joy and life abundant, which isn’t about things, but relationships. I choose to celebrate not reservedly, but with wild faith and intentional happiness.
Published in The Corridor Magazine, December 2010 issue