This time of year should be a joyous celebration. But for many families, it isn't. With the economy on the downside, heating costs and unemployment up, many families are struggling just to meet day to day demands, much less come up with warm clothing or Christmas presents for their little ones.
It is our duty, if we've been blessed with an overabundance in our lives, to remember to help others througout the year, but especially at Christmas when there is such an increased need. In our community alone right now there are over 1,000 angels that have not been collected from the Angel Trees. Food banks are requesting extra donations from anyone who can spare, and church pantries are running dry. The need is overwhelming and if we really want to experience the true meaning of Christmas, giving back is the way to do it.
I'm going to share a part of my life with you that I have told VERY few. For a long time I was ashamed of it and after I realized it was not my fault, I just saw no point in sharing it with anyone. But the point to sharing this is that even if you don't have a lot of money to share with others, you CAN make a huge difference. Every little thing you do can help someone.
When I was younger my mother divorced my dad and moved us to a small town in rural Texas. The town had less than 500 people and my mother married a man that was abusive and lazy. She did little to protect my brother and I, and we often had no money, barely any clothing or food. I refused to tell my dad (who was lived back at home in Alabama) what was happening. I felt like he would take us away from our mom and that would somehow cause her life to fall apart. My brother and I were abused physically, emotionally and verbally as often as my step-father felt the need...which was quite often. Thanks to my step-granddad we at least had a roof over our heads. Often times however, we would end up eating trash from the dumpsters of the local gas station.
Many times I relied on the kindness of strangers for a meal, for clothing, even for shelter at times. Almost 18 years later I can look back and tell you the names of the people who were gracious enough to reach out to my brother and I and lend a helping hand when we most needed it, and were most afraid to ask.
Please, I urge you, lend a helping hand this season to someone in need. If you're able, donate food to your local food bank, grab a few Angels from the Angel tree, decorate a tree with mittens and hats, donate toys to Toys for Tots. Keep an extra pair of mittens in your car for someone who might need it. Keep an extra bag of food and water in the trunk for someone out on the corner with a sign saying they'll work for food. Open your heart this Christmas season and let Christ work through you. I promise you, someone somewhere will be more thankful than you can ever imagine.