Sharing My Home and My Time During the Holidays
Having been raised by my mom, who is exceptionally giving and caring and a lifelong social worker, I learned an interesting lesson about how to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. For years, my mother invited single friends of hers who had no family nearby to share our meals and our special days. Many people don't have the advantage of a nuclear family, or perhaps their families are simply too far away.
Over the past few years, we have been hosting both of the major holidays at our house, since we have three small children and the largest home. Frankly, it's been nice to remain home rather than taking a car trip with the kids.
Starting last year, I decided to take a cue from my mom and invite a friend to hang out and enjoy a stellar meal with us. He is from Mexico, and his family is still there. He has been working here in the U.S. since about 1994, and sending money back home to his wife, parents, and his teenage son. He spent both holidays with us last year. He truly considers us to be his family now.
Today, my friend was here again to enjoy a terrific meal with us, including my wife's patented sweet potato casserole, which she could probably market. This time around, after my son prayed (very eloquently, I might add), I asked my friend to say a prayer in Spanish, which was both beautiful and poignant.
He stayed to watch the Cowboys' game, and I gave him a small gift by allowing him to call his family in Mexico for awhile before he left with a "care package" of great food. At first, he protested, but I really wanted him to have a stress-free chance to speak with them.
I have another friend who spent last Christmas with us, along with his mom. His father passed away, and he and his mom didn't really have any other plans. I think both of them enjoyed getting a chance to watch our kids with their gifts that day. They also attended our Christmas Eve service at church. I was hoping he would come over today as well, but I think he got suddenly shy and decided not to come this time.
Over the weekend sometime, my wife Pam and I will go to a government housing project to speak with several families about our church's outreach program called "Tree of Lights". If you follow my blog, you may recall that I spend time every month with the kids who live there: My Day with Project Intercept (Helping Disadvantaged Kids in Austin). We will be speaking with each family about what they want/need for Christmas this year, and I will be helping to coordinate the "adoption" of each family by the members of our church. Just before Christmas, there is a large program held at the community center with songs and food and the gifts are all distributed. At last year's program, I seriously had more holiday joy in my heart than I have felt since I was a child. Although I realize that it is a clunky analogy, it reminded me a lot of the end of the Grinch movie. The happiness that I saw and shared that night made me wish that I could do that every day of the year.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I hope you are also able to find some ways to share your joy with others during the holiday season this year.
Thanks for taking some time to read this one.