A Very Special And Different Kind of Christmas
We got the call on 7:15AM, on Christmas morning; Rose’s Dad had passed from complications after a recent surgery. He had been on hospice and unresponsive for 5 days. We had been expecting the end, but prayed it wouldn’t happen on this day. Rose had just returned home to spend Christmas with me a day and a half earlier.
We decided to go through with our plans to create a special Christmas for some of our homeless friends. John Barnes would have wanted it that way. I actually had been planning this for several weeks but I thought I would be hosting it alone since Rose had been caring for her ailing father in Illinois for the last 6 weeks. I really didn’t expect her to be home for Christmas.
We loaded up the SUV with 10lbs of ham, an equal amount mashed potatoes, coffee, assorted pies and a hodge-podge of gifts I had been collecting for the last month in preparation for this day. Many of the gifts, in “our” world, would not be acceptable for Christmas but for the homeless they were priceless. A case of bottled water, rolls of “mountain money”, flashlights, hats, gloves, and 2 sleeping bags, McDonald’s gift cards and a small amount of cash. For Fritz and his friend Robert, I bought each a transistor radio so they could listen to the SF Giants games. Fritz also got a pocket chess set so he could continue to play the game he is so passionate about. Remembering what Robert had once said to me about the importance of a note he had received from stranger, I made sure everyone had a personalized Christmas card.
I had put the word out through Fritz that we would be coming for a Christmas celebration, but as we drove to our meeting spot I wondered how many people would actually show. After all, Thanksgiving was less than well attended. As we pulled in the parking lot and turned the corner, I was overjoyed at the number of faces I saw.
So we pulled the table out of the SUV and starting serving the 12 or so shelter less friends. A few more trickled in. Everyone was a bit shy at first, taking small portions. But once it was obvious that there was enough food for everyone, our guest loaded up and came back for seconds and even thirds. That morning we actually thought we had over prepared and all the food would go to waste but most everything was gone in less than 45 minutes.
The outpouring of thanks and gratitude tugged at our heartstrings and brought a tear to our eyes.
Billy came up to me and said “ You don’t know what this means to me. Before you came I was trying to decide if I should spend my last $2.00 at McDonalds or try my luck at picking through the trash.”
Bacon said” I want to thank you for taking care of my family. I have no way to repay you but I work with leather and I will make you something to show my gratitude”
The genuine caring I saw this Christmas morning touched me. I had only bought 2 sleeping bags and there were 4 people of need, so I decide to draw numbers to determine the winners. Before I could enter everyone in the drawing, Robert came up to me and said, “don’t worry about me, and give the bag to someone who needs it more than I do.” I ordered Robert his own sleeping bag that night.
As we loaded up the SUV, we were met with hugs and thanks for reaching out at Christmas. As we drove home, we talked about what a truly different and special Christmas this was and vowed to make it bigger and better next year.
Tags: Blog, Christmas, Souls Not Forgotten