Today is the day, it is Christmas Eve.
For me being of German-Canadian background, growing up was easy at Christmas because we celebrated on Christmas Eve, not Day. Even as an adult I don't understand why parent wait to be woken up at 5 am on Christmas Day to dish out presents half awake. But hey, if that's what your family does then, great!
I have fond memories of being a child sitting with my entire family. No one was sick yet. No one even thought of disease or pain. No one thought of loss. We just had a beautiful meal prepared by a master chef, my mom. I never remotely knew as a child what it was like to be poor, to go without or know about those less fortunate. Nor did I know about pain and suffering. These things were kept away from me as a child. And I had an abundance of everything a kid could want.
I hope that your childhood memories were the same.
When my son was born I promised him and myself he would never go without, always had everything he needed which was a father. And as he grew up he was able to have those MasterChef meals prepared by my mother. His Oma. My boy never went without.
But as time grew, so did we. My parents aged and got sick. Then I got sick. My son battled multiple health issues. Suddenly, Christmas Eve with my parents was no more. My mom is gone. Only my father remains.
Christmas dinner isn't going to be the same again this year.
We continue to fight a multitude of health problems. Amongst loss which for Christmas time can be so devastating, especially losing someone at the holiday season.
Last year my family completely skipped Christmas aside from a Turkey dinner. We had no tree, no decorations, no lights. No presents. Nothing.
Had a meal and that was it for us. However, about a month prior to Christmas, we talked about skipping Christmas but helping others who deserve it and need it. The homeless to my wife and I are very important to us. We try to help as much as we can. We don't knock others who send cheques or donate overseas. That is awesome if you do. But my wife and I like to give at home directly. No CEO's to pass through. 100% of what we do is given directly.
Last year and this year we skipped gifts (so she has told me) and we pooled our money together and made what we call "Hope" bags for the homeless. They consist of Hats, gloves, socks, tissues, band-aids, toothbrush, dental floss, toothpaste, personal body wipes, granola bars, bottled water, fruit cups, a bottle of Ensure and a Tim Horton's gift card). We handed them out Christmas Eve and Day. There is a fellow here in town who we know about. He is over 70. Doesn't live at a shelter or mission. Last year he was sleeping under a blue tarp, with only blankets. No heat, no hydro, no toilet, no medicine cabinet to go to if he has a cold or flu. His name is Paul. Yes, he has a name and to us, he has value he has substance and we are glad he is here. You can find Paul usually collecting pop cans to pay for food. He does NOT panhandle. And every time we see him he refuses whatever we offer. This time we found his home. We brought him the Hope bag. He had another homeless man staying with him.
There is no family for him with no tree or gifts to receive or give. Now imagine what if he had my disease or another? How does a homeless person live like that? Or even find the will to live?
Once I left, I cried. How could I possibly go home to a warm house, sit and eat knowing those two men are shivering cold and hungry. So we made them both a large turkey meal and brought it to them along with winter jackets, towels, and blankets. And what did he say to me? If you ever need a place to stay, I have room for you.
Please do not thank us for what we do, Please do not assume they are drug addicts. It doesn't matter why they are there just that we help them. They are someones, someone.
Christmas Day we continued to hand out more "Hope" bags. We call them hope bags because a lot of them lose hope in themselves or society as a whole. We can't change their life but we can change their day.
This year we decided to do the same. This year my wife's work got involved and helped out by employees donating to the list of needs.
This year we made 16 Hope bags. And within 24 hours (I keep a few in the car at all times) we were able to give one away. The lady was so grateful. The very first thing she did was guzzle a bottle of Ensure.
Please, I encourage everyone to do the same and make these "Hope" bags and keep a few in your vehicle. They cost very little to make, take little room in your vehicle. And if you can buy them a meal at the same time that would be very kind. We do this when we can.
Our Christmas now despite all the loss, missing the ones we love so much can not be replaced but helping others is the true spirit of Christmas to us. Please do not thank us, We will not allow it but we do want to encourage everyone to do the same.
If you are suffering in pain. Know I empathize with you. You will get through this. You are important. You matter. You have value and substance and I am glad you are here. Never give up.
Merry Christmas and blessings.
Please watch my Christmas VLOG here....filmed Dec 25,2016