As I decide on what personalized Christmas cards to order, I am reminded that Christmas comes to everyone. In this economy, and as we enjoy all the colorful Christmas decorations in our neighborhoods, I am reminded of those who are living in more humble circumstances in public shelters, tents, inside cars, or even on the street. Everyone likes to be part of the season and the homeless are no different.
Years ago on Christmas Day we used to drive to downtown San Diego with my car stuffed full of all kinds of gifts: new coats, new blankets, shirts, shoes, socks and the like. I worked for an apparel company and they were most generous to give to the effort. Nearby golf apparel companies would also donate boxes and boxes of new golf shirts to give away. A coworker gave a cash gift and we were on our way with new socks, t-shirts and hygiene items.
We drove up and down the streets of the deserted downtown area and looked for people in need. They were easy to find in the late holiday afternoon resting on loading docks, behind trucks, huddled in doorways. One homeless gentleman was so surprised to see someone on Christmas Day. His home was hidden deep in the midst of a truck yard where no one could see his makeshift abode. As I approached with our Christmas good wishes he declared with surprise, “A clean woman!” I guess he was not used to being in proximity of everyday society.
Another man walking on an overpass near Balboa Park was so delighted confronting our Christmas cheer that he said, “I haven’t had an intelligent conversation with another person in seven months!” Just like the exchange of Christmas cards, it doesn’t take much to share the true Christmas spirit.
On one of those outings I caught a glimpse of one of my fellow homeless workers walking along the cold downtown streets in his socks. I asked him what had happened, thinking there was some sort of mishap. He had taken the shoes off his feet and given them to someone with a greater need. He said, “I have plenty of shoes at home.”
Now that’s the Spirit of Christmas!