It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year … Or Is It?

I love the Christmas season … always have, always will. It’s a time of spiritual renewal, celebrating with family and friends sharing your love. What could be better than this? It is the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it?

Recently, my parish priest told me a story about a man who advertised for a family with whom he could share Christmas dinner. The man said he had no family and couldn’t bear another holiday alone. If you are one of the millions of people who has lost a loved one or experienced a traumatic life-altering event, the holiday season can be brutal.  It can be the loneliest time of the year.

Watching holiday movies where everyone is gathered around a big table enjoying a meal together and you have no family; seeing television programs showing an abundance of Christmas gifts under the tree when you just lost your job; even watching a jewelry commercial in which the guy gives his girlfriend a diamond pendant and you’re not in a relationship – TORTURE!

We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season – shopping, cooking, baking, parties, school plays – that we forget to look around and see the people in our circle that may be in pain. We neglect to open our hearts and homes to our friends and family.

When I was growing up, my family would have Christmas dinner in my grandparent’s basement. Yes, the basement. Horror of horrors. We used mismatched dishes, glasses and silverware. We sat at card tables, folding tables, sometimes even used TV trays for the kiddies. And do you know why? Because EVERYONE was invited and welcome in that home. If any family member (or even a guest) heard about people that were going to be alone (even a family of four), they were instructed to invite them. We cooked for an army so it didn’t matter if there were 10 or 50; we always made do.

That is how I have always lived my life – everyone is welcome at my table. But, when I look around, I do not see others living their life that way. This is something I don’t understand. I see people that have holiday dinners with their families but don’t ever extend an invitation to a few extra people that they know don’t have a family. What difference will two, three or even six people make?

Everyone knows someone in his or her inner circle that needs a hand. Just imagine how many less lonely people there would be if a friend extended a hand!

There’s still time! This Christmas I encourage you to look at the people in your life – family members (even extended family and in-laws), friends, coworkers – and open your home and your heart. Share a meal and some company. Make someone feel like he or she is loved and wanted. If you don’t have enough china or crystal, use your every day dishes and glasses. Mix and match, or use paper. I guarantee your guests won’t mind. It won’t take much from you, but you will receive so much.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:40 Merry Christmas!

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