Whether we like it or not, we are running a rat race with super busy and hectic lives. Thankfully, Christmas is that time of the year to connect and reconnect with friends and family. This gives us an opportunity to catch up with those who we may not get an opportunity to talk to as frequently as we would like. And trust me, it’s really wonderful, reminiscing the good ol’ days or just making all kinds of plans to meet soon. Whether or not that materialises is a different matter altogether. But no harm in planning exotic vacations or a much needed reunion. And sometimes during such conversations, some things come up that really force you to think long and hard about things.
One such thing happened when last night I had a long chat with my cousin sister. She lives in San Jose, California. During the hour long call she gave me updates about how their skiing trip was cancelled due to the lockdown enforced in light of the second wave of the pandemic. How for the first time in a really long time, they are celebrating Christmas at home all by themselves. How my niece who was so excited about experiencing college life is now forced to do online classes and is so bored at home that she is picking up new hobbies everyday. How my little nephew is inventing new games to play all by himself. She also mentioned that every year they raise money and buy all kinds of supplies like groceries and blankets and take them personally to the nearby shelters for the poor and less fortunate ones. Over the years, it’s become like a Christmas tradition for them and they make sure their kids help out and in the process know and appreciate how blessed they are. But this year, she mentioned how things were so different.
This year there were far more people queueing up outside the shelter…some had walked for miles to reach the venue, some had been living on the streets for days as they couldn’t find beds in any of the nearby shelters. This time she saw far more homeless families than usual. And upon talking to them, they came to know that most of them were in such dire straits due to loss of employment as many shops/factories/businesses had shut down due to the pandemic and the lockdowns imposed thereafter. Their limited savings were spent, now they were unable to pay their bills, house rent, school fees and were thus on the streets. Homeless. At their wit’s end trying to figure out their next meal. The plight of these families was so overwhelming for my sister that she decided to cut down on their own Christmas budget and extend some more help to these families. Even while narrating the incident, I could hear her choke up.
As for me, well for one, I couldn’t be more proud of her, as her little act of generosity surely would have gone a long way in helping someone in need. But it also got me thinking, if things are as bad as this in the world’s largest economy, then the situation is bound to be much much worse elsewhere. I just couldn’t get the thought out of my mind, of all these families who are jobless, homeless, penniless, with nowhere to go, nobody to turn to. How helpless they must feel. How hopeless the world must seem.
It really made my problems seem silly and inconspicuous in comparison. Made me realize how, so very often, we take things for granted. How ungrateful we are for the things we have. How much we complain and crib about not getting things that we don’t even need.
Yes, this year has been different. It’s been a year like no other. Life has been hectic, chaotic. Life has been mundane, unpleasant. The world out there is unsafe. We are in the grips of an unknown, invisible enemy. We are all living in fear, uncertainty, anxiety. In short, in the past year, life has been difficult and not much has happened to be thankful for.
But we must remind ourselves, that if we have a roof over our head, food on our plate, a warm bed to sleep in, enough money to pay our bills and the love of our near and dear ones, then that’s enough and more reason to be grateful and thankful this Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all 🎅☃️🎁🎄❤️😀
Christmas is forever,
Not for just one day.
For loving, sharing, giving,
Are not to put away.
Like bells and lights and tinsel,
in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others,
Is good you do yourself.
Norman W. Brooks