Christmas on the street is not a happy time. In fact, it is a period of time in the street community that weighs heavily on our street friends. Memories of what once was but will never be; images of turkey dinners replaced with plastic utensils and Styrofoam plates: good memories belong only to Christmas past, for some it’s reliving the nightmare of drunkenness and abuse.
It should have come as no surprise to me when this week I asked different friends at the drop in to tell me of what a ‘best Christmas’ might look like. I was gathering information for upcoming promotional materials, hoping to let my readers gain a better picture of how it really is on the streets.
Some would not participate: memories too difficult to recollect; sounds unlike Christmas bells fill their minds and hearts; many commenting that they didn’t believe in Christmas – the hype, the rush, the crowds – but mostly not wanting to articulate the loneliness and emptiness that so many feel so deeply.
Some did respond. Greg said his best Christmas was last year. Why? “Because I was breathing.” What would make up his ‘best Christmas’? “This one, if I am breathing.” Anything to look forward to in the New Year? “Yes,” he responded, “breathing.” It’s really more than a trite same answer to my questions, but an acknowledgement that folks on the street really do live one moment to the next. Nothing is certain for the future, no guarantees from anyone, any expectations long dashed on the rocks of reality, and hope has long vanished into the silent night.
I think that people have thought and felt this way before. Many have just given up, and live one day – no, one moment to the next.
This is how many people who call the streets their home feel and think. It’s a dark world. We have the privilege and opportunity to enter this world, when invited, and bring another message.
I think it may have been like this so many years ago, when a voice resounded in the heavens, “Hey, unto you a son has been given.”