My kids consider me a Scrooge-like person when it comes to Christmas. I don’t go in for the big-lights under the stars extravaganza when it comes to decorations. I’d rather watch Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy than the pyrotechnics of a heavy-metal band rocking to a Christmas tune. I like to think of Christmas spirit more like George Bailey and not the cantankerously greedy Mr. Potter in Its a Wonderful Life.
Okay, I’ll admit to being a sentimental “fuddie-duddie” when it comes to the holidays. Yet as I prepare for the holiday season this year I am confronted and troubled by some very harsh, very stark realities.
Earlier today I read a news article that says 45% of households in the United States cannot pay for the monthly essentials in order to provide shelter, heat, electricity and food. In September, religious leaders in our community were told by the operators of one of the homeless shelters that there is a growing issue of homelessness. Not only had the shelter been at their maximum capacity, they had been allowing those who could not find indoor shelter to sleep under a portable carport structure outside. Local food pantries receive generous donations from the community but have their shelves emptied far too quickly each month.
Compare this harsh reality with the extravagance of a catalog offering an yurt complete with linen wall coverings and a specially crafted chandelier to be built on your estate grounds at at starting price of $75,000.
A tweet I read questioned/lamented why it was okay to camp outside the local department store in anticipation of Black Friday but it isn’t okay to camp outside corporate offices/government buildings as part of an Occupy Movement.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of the blessings I have. I am grateful for employment that excites and engages me, for the love and support of family and friends, for the warmth of a home and for the table where we gather for meals.
Sometime this week, I’ll get the boxes of Christmas decorations out and string some lights across our front porch. We’ll get the Christmas tree decorated and all will be as festive as it has been in years past. Its a Wonderful Life and a modern day pop/rock star will remind me that the holidays can be a blending of the old and new; of the traditional and the contemporary.
I will enjoy the season while giving thanks for the blessings I have. I will seek to be as generous to those who are in need as I am to the electric company whose income increases because of my front porch lights. I will look for bargains that put gifts in the hands of children and adults who will struggle to make ends meet as much as I do when looking for gifts to go under our family’s tree. I will see my trips to the grocery store as an occasion to fill the pantry of someone else along with filling my own. I will remember that Mary and Joseph found themselves caught up as participants in a government-enforced Occupy Movement and that while they were there Mary gave birth to her first born child.
I am reminded that Advent is a season of preparation. I am to prepare for something that has already happened yet something that is still to happen in the future. May your holiday preparations lead you to the places where you will find greatest joy and help fill the greatest need.