By Oscar Wailoo
With the temperature plunging and Christmas all about, only the willful could find an escape. ‘Tis true that the commercial side of Christmas could be a burden, most of all on the poor and needy, yet it need not be that way. After all, it’s not Christmas per se that is the culprit here.
For too long this wonderful season was hijacked by the merchants and made into a huge market place for the rich, the sentimental and the classes that can ill afford to succumb to the advertiser’s craft. It was not meant to be that way. It was always about goodwill and sharing that which we have in abundance.
This does not mean that you should not go out and buy a thing or two, but only that when you do so, do it for someone who needs it more than you. And let it be something that can enhance that person’s life, even in a small way.
In some cultures, instead of gathering for a Christmas feast, families invite the needy into their homes to share the feast, the goodwill and spirit that lives within a happy home. Some go further and adopt a person or family in need and take an interest in them and see them through to the next year. There are great stories of the needy being delivered out of poverty and regain their footing because of the help given to them beyond Christmas.
In the old country, people still help to raise their neighbour’s children by providing them with meals, books and uniforms for school. This often brings enough relief to parents so the pittance they earn can keep them well enough to allow them to love the child who is no longer seen as a burden. There was a time when the poor was let out of the “Alms House” at Christmas to accept the simple gift of a bowl of rice or an old shirt from people who had little to give but who understood the spirit of the season.
We, therefore, do not have to be rich to give, nor do we have to spend a fortune to have a positive effect on the less fortunate. Sometimes a good clean sleeping bag for a man who lives on the street will go a long way; or a contribution to the food bank and soup kitchens will give someone a better day. Perhaps volunteering at a shelter or taking care of children when mom and dad are out hunting for a living may well give that family a chance to build a new life.
If it takes Chrismas to get us in the mood of giving then let it come as often as we can have it. It is a good spirit with a wonderful message – Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All. Nothing’s wrong with that. The point is that it works. It brings the best out of us.
So we should not wait for the ghost of Christmas to visit in order to be transformed like Ebenezer Scrooge. That visit may never come. Instead let some of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King from a sermon he delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Christmas Eve in 1967 be a guide on how to see and do Christmas:
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half of the world. This is the way our universe is structured; this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”
Have a real good one this year, and the next, and the next….