December 23, 2013

I’m dreaming of the best Christmas ever

Christmas is a mixed bag for me. I love seeing the Mission transform with the decorations made by our homeless children.

There’s also a sense of excitement and expectation here, knowing that God’s going to make the day magical. People are going to come in off the streets freezing cold, filthy and shell-shocked from the fear and desperation that goes along with homelessness.

Then they’ll quickly discover that being forced to come through our doors by hunger or cold is actually a blessing in disguise. First they smell the good food. Then they are welcomed in with dignity. People are glad they are there. When people hear the real Christmas story for the first time, a lot of tears flow. It’s the beginning of a whole new life!

But the whole Christmas season is also a time when people drink more and double up on their drugs to “celebrate.” No matter how hard some people try, they can’t cover the pain of being poor and addicted when the rest of the world seems to be happy and full of hope.

This is also a time when abusers tend to give the worst thrashings of all to their spouses and children.

It’s when hundreds of homeless and poor children in Everett’s schools feel more lonely and left out than ever. Not to mention how many of our neighbors won’t even get enough to eat that day.

Anyone who has ever worked on a crisis line or served in law enforcement can tell you about the darker side of Christmas. More people calling to be talked out of suicide. More women trying to escape an abuser. The emergency rooms fill up, too, with overdoses and trauma victims.

I look around right now, today, and see that we are basically filled to capacity. I wonder what we’re going to do tomorrow and the coming weeks as the numbers of people in need surge. We can’t turn people away to the streets in the dead of winter, especially women and children. 

But even more, when someone goes from being in need to being someone who can care for themselves, and even help others in need, it’s a lot more impactful than just giving someone a meal or a place to stay for the night. So we want people to come here, because we’ve got the tools to really help them move on to productive lives.

The only answer is to do more. We need more friends. And we need everyone who has ever supported the Mission to recommit, make it part of their daily life to pray for the poor, to volunteer and to give.