Deck The Halls

Posted: December 14, 2007 in Compassion, Friendship, Homelessness, Hunger, Money, Morality

Christmas Day is just around the corner and New Year’s Day, isn’t that far behind. Shoppers are out and about trying to locate gifts for whoever is on their list. Retailers are looking at their sales figures (probably every night) hoping that they’ll make "a killing" – or at the very least enough to pay for the extra holiday help they had to hire for the in rush of Christmas customers.

Even restaurants are benefiting from the mad shopping season because folks who are out shopping don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to do their shopping then rush home to grab something to eat.  

Yesterday evening one couple I know invited me out to dinner with them which I accepted.

When we arrived at the restaurant, there were quite a few people there. And, even as we sat talking and eating, more and more people kept coming and going. The place was "buzzing" with the sounds of silverware on the plates as people were talking and laughing while they ate.

Although this may sound strange, I kept watching the workers who were clearing the tables of departing customers and making them ready for new customers. One of the things I noticed in particular was that there seemed to be quite a bit of food being thrown away. It made me wonder what the dollar value of all of that food was. When you think about how many restaurants there are nationwide the dollar value of uneaten food that gets thrown out must be astronomical.

While that was going around in my mind, I thought about many of the homeless people in this area that I’ve come to know. I wondered how many of them would end up going hungry because they didn’t have access to something to eat tonight. Sure, there is the night shelter where they can go and have a meal provided them. But, it’s easy to "violate" one of what seems to be an endless and growing number of rules and find yourself having your shelter services "suspended" these days. Something as simple as being in the shelter property one minute before you’re allowed and you could find yourself "suspended" for a week or more.

One of the Christmas songs that I knew as a young boy was "Deck The Halls" which began with:

"Deck the halls with boughs of Holly
Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
‘Tis the season to be jolly
Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la"

Everyone in the restaurant certainly seemed to be feeling a bit jolly except for one woman who was sitting with someone at a table near to where we sitting. I’m not going to say that she was being grouchy, but she certainly didn’t seem to be all caught up in the excitement of the season either. All of a sudden I heard her say – almost bitterly – to the person she was with:

‘Tis the season to spend all of your money

I had to laugh because of just how true her words were.

After we left the restaurant I couldn’t get that woman’s words out of my mind – especially when I though about the different types of things that most people’s money was going to be spent on this holiday season. Many of those gifts will be items that will only be used for a relatively short period of time after they’ve been opened on Christmas morning. Then, many of those gifts will be consigned to a closet, shelf or garage to gather dust.

All of it will have been for a momentary feeling of pleasure…

In the meanwhile, this nations homeless will still be struggling just to survive from day to day. They will have to make due with what little they have – which in the end may be nothing more than a hope of one day having a place they can call home.

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