Try to connect with someone at a social service agency--anyone with any senority is gone for the holiday. Shelter staff cover this crazy time the best they can, often unable to do their "real" job because they're sorting piles of donated Barbie dolls and stuffed animals.
Homelessness continues, in a particularly cruel way, because as most people are immersed in the distorted excesses of the holidays--more of the commercial event and little-to-none of the blessed one--few non-homeless people even think of those in a homeless situation.
For homeless families, teens on their own, and single adults, this time often brings up reminders of holidays past, some good, some not. In addition to the challenge of providing basics of food and shelter for their kids, parents struggle with painful inadequacy of not being able to afford gifts for their loved ones.
My joy as I've been traveling is to spend time with formerly homeless families who have cobbled together enough to bring the spirit of Christmas into their humble abodes. It's a refreshing change from the "norm" of holiday activities--to be around people genuinely appreciative of what they have, where they live, and the people with whom they live.
I spent last Christmas with Melissa and her kids in their former FEMA trailer that she was able to buy. I witnessed this tenacious family meld into the spirit of love, decorating their first Christmas tree in their "new" home, mindful of where they've been on the journey in and out of homelessness.
This year I marveled at "Julianna and Company's" tree--for its beauty and the bargain she got on it. Her determination to make their cramped 3-bedroom apartment into a place of celebration and peace yielded amazing results which her kids truly appreciated.
Seems to me that our "less fortunate" brothers and sisters are in fact the most fortunate, rich in what really counts. When will we realize that capitulating to commerical powers that distort the meaning of Christmas is not the way to celebrate the birth of a baby to a homeless family...?