The Day After Christmas


My niece and nephew picked out a lovely tree.

It’s definitely Christmas.

I know this because my mother-in-law has already baked a peach cobbler and a fruitcake today and also made up food boxes to provide Christmas dinner to two local families who are desperately poor, one with three children and the other with seven.

Pastor Mom had already purchased turkeys and made up food boxes for two other needy families.  But then this morning, the needs of two more families who are unfamiliar to us came to our attention.  My wife and mother-in-law took off on a moment’s notice for an unplanned Wal-Mart run.  We need a couple more turkeys and ten pound bags of potatoes.  Must get more oatmeal packets and cookies.

One of them reportedly had nothing in the house for the kids to eat.  We know that their Christmas dinner will come early and that they will have to work on finding additional food for the big day on Wednesday.

And I thought I had problems.

Funny how Christmas has a way of putting things into perspective.

I think it’s wonderful how Christmas is known as “the season of giving.”  We all wish to be wise like the three kings of Orient and offer the finest things we have to those in the humblest of circumstances.

Okay, some of us forget.  In the hustle and bustle of the days leading up to Santa’s arrival, we may focus on getting the perfect gifts for our loved ones wrapped and under the tree, or on beginning preparations for the perfect holiday meal.  I suggest that we ought to pause in our exertions long enough to think of those who have nothing.  Those who don’t have to worry about what’s under the tree because they have no tree and wouldn’t have money for gifts even if they did.  Those who, in another time, may have had the pleasure of bedding down with the animals, or say, enjoying yet another packet of Top Ramen for dinner.

I know.  It’s easy to become jaded.  We are subject to too many requests for handouts.  They come to the door, wheedle for contributions at work, ring annoying bells in front of Target.  We don’t have enough to even make the kind of Christmas we really wish we could for our own families, and now every time we turn around we have to deal with people trying to make us feel guilty enough to fork over what little we have.

We’re already under enough stress as it is, and we wish the beggars would just stop already.  Don’t they know we’re doing what we can?

Oh, and don’t even get started on the scruffy characters who stand with tattered signs at the end of the freeway off-ramps where they have a captive audience waiting for the light to turn green.  Half of them have bicycles or dogs or even jackets, for heaven’s sake, so you know they’re fakers who aren’t really homeless.  They hang out in the same spots all year, lying in wait outside the fast food restaurants, but then comes the holidays and they write Merry Christmas Please Help on their signs.  What do they think we are, idiots?  We know blatant guilt-tripping when see it.  They’re not interested in food anyway.  All they want is a 40 and a blunt.  Don’t waste your money on that heap of trash.  Look straight ahead and keep driving.  Society’s detritus spread out before us like some kind of freak show when all we’re trying to do is earn a living and get to school in time to pick up the kids.

Truly, we’re doing the best we can.  But people just don’t get it.  Talk about living in an acquisitive America with Christmas marred by commercialism.  Everyone wants more, more, more, even the filthy drunks and transients.

As for those truly in need, aren’t there programs out there to help them?  Where are the food banks and the churches?  Let them do their jobs.  Most of the beggars are addicts or mentally ill or the product of their own bad decisions, so they are beyond help anyway.  There’s really nothing we can do for them, so don’t waste your time and money.

Yes, the charitable organizations are running at full tilt.  The bi-county food bank is having a big giveaway tomorrow.  There will also be a free meal on the church lawn on Saturday (along with toys for all local kids who show up).  We’ll make sure that the members of our little community in need have a decent Christmas on Wednesday.

But it’s not Wednesday that concerns me.

It’s Thursday.

The day after Christmas.



One thought on “The Day After Christmas

  1. Pingback: Toward the Alleviation of Suffering | A Map of California

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