Christmas For All?
We Can “Do Good.”
What of Christmas for those who are still clinging to homes they can no longer turn to? Homes that are not welcoming; have no open arms, open spaces, or open hearts . . . Where do they go? Who shelters them in their personal times of need when white Christmases fill our eyes with their beautiful blankets of fluff? A warm fire, a comforting hug, and a long night of storytelling amongst a family of traveling souls do not greet them. Is it Christmas for them too? Do they know we are laughing, loving, and opening up too many gifts, many of which we will shrink our noses to?
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there were roughly 554,000 homeless people living somewhere in the United States on a given night last year (2017). A total of 193,000 of those people were “unsheltered,” meaning that they were living on the streets and had no access to emergency shelters, transitional housing, or Safe Havens. Despite a booming stock market and strong economic growth, a large swathe of America is still struggling to make ends meet. — Kizley Benedict, Reuters
If the numbers above do not shock you, they should.
“You cannot save the world, baby. You just can’t.” This is what I hear when I yearn for every human being to have their basic needs met — my mother’s voice. Her somewhat assurance that I am doing enough. But, I never feel as though I am. This year, if it’s the Lord’s will, I will have a hot meal, a warm roof over my head, and loved ones who will call and exchange pleasantries with me. I will also pursue offering a few basic needs to those who are without them — to those who cannot afford them.
This is what I seek to do throughout the year, but more so during the intense climates of summer and winter in my area of North Carolina. It can get extremely hot here during the summer months and rather cold during the winter months. For my heart, soul, and peace of mind — helping a few of my brothers and sisters I see standing on our corners or unable to be serviced at one of our shelters is what I feel I am called to do.
I think of my family; those who were addicts, displaced, or unable to get back on their feet without help and I know that if I can give (time, money, food, and efforts) then I am doing good work.
I think of when both my mom and kid brother needed a place to live — a source of shelter and peace. That was provided to each of them. I often think of how easy it could be for me to lose everything I have or just my job and how quickly my life could change and I see myself walking in those shoes and I find myself in tears. I have a few members of my family on which I can count and I know of one of the first people for which I’d turn to if this should ever occur. I know in my heart that my request would be acknowledged — my needs would be met.
But, this is my assumption based on what I know now. Anything can happen.
As of May 2018, Forsyth County was logged as having 440 homeless people based on a “point in time” conduction by the United Way of Forsyth County. Some of our county’s past efforts in decreasing the homeless population were enhanced in 2016 and since then, the number of homeless people on our streets has decreased significantly. We have several shelters that operate on housing those in need on a nightly basis, providing two meals — others are somewhat longer term. But there is still so much work to do and every effort, whether big or small, does not go unnoticed.
The church I attend has a revolving theme. It is simply this: “Do Good.” If you assisted one person this past week, however, you assisted them, you did an act of good. If you are showing up on time or before the time you said you would — keeping your word, you are doing good. If you see your fellow brother or sister struggling and you provide something that causes their struggling to subside for a second, a minute, a day, a month — you are doing good. You wrote a poem for someone with a broken heart to cheer them up — that’s your one thing. It’s your good deed.
You are doing good.
As the holidays continue to creep in slowly, remind yourself that it only takes a moment to recognize love and to give it too. Not everyone will be surrounded by light and all things that make us smile. What is even more heartbreaking is not everyone will be willing to contribute to acts of good but you must not let that stop you from playing your part.
The holiday season can cause us to create habits of busyness when in actuality, these things would not exist. Slow down. Reflect. Take each moment in and embrace them as they come. Christmas should mean so much more than what we have likened it to. The spirit of giving should be exactly that. Instead, we have turned into a frenzied bunch, much too bent on obtaining the “perfect gifts” for our loved ones and draining ourselves dry in the process.
Every good thing we do each day should encourage us to add another one the next day and the next after that. And so on and furthermore. We should continue this until we raise each other up instead of using up so much of our energy batting each other down. This holiday season, “let your heart be light” and shine on someone in a way they least expect it. You will not only brighten up that person’s day, but you will feel a glow inside you too.