This Christmas help those who lost loved ones or a home

Published 1:56 pm Friday, December 21, 2018

Each Christmas Season, one of our Sunday School members always reminds us to pray, and look out for those who lost a loved one. She should know, as her husband died several years ago, and it was hard on her and the kids. Of course we add that to the prayer list, but several cases this year taught me that maybe I should think about it more than once a week.

A prominent member of our region’s legal community, and a retired education professor, and a former teacher of nurses all left us. They didn’t just leave a void in the community. I could see the pain they left for family members who miss them so much. As our Sunday School friend points out annually, it’s especially hard during the Christmas Season, when everyone else is so happy, that you’re hurting inside. It’s not that holiday-goers are being cruel; folks may not notice who’s having a tough time this year.

There are others who have dropped off the radar this holiday season — those without a home.  This year, our country was hit with several natural disasters. Thankfully there weren’t as many deaths as a Hurricane Katrina, but these storms (Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and Hurricane Michael in Georgia and Florida, and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year, and wildfires in California and Tennessee) cost plenty of people everything, and robbed them of a place to stay.

These tragedies did get a lot of coverage at first, but as stories changed and other events emerged, that news faded from the headlines, and our memories. But for who suffered from them, it’s still a front-page story in their lives every day.

I got a little taste of what they are going through this year, and it’s not something I’d like to repeat. I won’t go into details, but we found ourselves having to live out of duffle bags for months, staying with a friend from church, and even in college dorms, sharing refrigerators and laundry time, with backup clothes in trunks. It’s quite a blow to have your kids ask “So where are we staying tonight?” and not always knowing.

I thank God we live in a small caring community where others offered to help us move, invited us out, accommodated our attempts to keep up our busy extracurricular activities of theater, baseball, scouts and coaching academics and athletics going. Just asking how we were doing helped us know that others cared about our plight.

But it’s a different story when the entire community is destroyed, as was the case with so many others in these luckless cities and towns.  They don’t have a nice college, school, small city and neighborhood to offer help.  And as volunteers at our warming center in town know, there are homeless in the community who struggle with the tough choice of having a warm bed, warm meal or warm shower, or losing everything stashed away in a tent city or abandoned house.

It meant a lot to see so many in our Methodist church open up their pocketbooks and their hearts by helping pack relief supplies for hurricane victims, as well as meals for the less-fortunate, for folks they don’t even know, perhaps not even realizing how much it helps. But you know, it’s like that in Bible too.

When it comes to the sheep and goats story, the good folks don’t even realize how much they helped. When you donate or do volunteer work during this Christmas Season, the help is appreciated among those in need, even if that person you’re helping at the moment seems a little too distraught to give you the thanks you deserve.