If you beheld the parking lots around any mall or grocery store this week, you might think that today – Christmas – is all about shopping, buying, hauling, wrapping, cooking and eating.
We are happy to report that if you came to that conclusion, you would be wonderfully and thoroughly wrong. All those activities are just the skin of this holiday. What’s inside is the miracle of human generosity, open-heartedness and affection.
Tonight, for example, Crazy Faith Ministries will show up in a parking lot in downtown Olympia and provide Christmas dinner to people who are homeless. Scores of donors will pitch in with donations of food, gift cards, warm gloves and socks. (If you want to help, you can find a list of donations they still need on Facebook.)
All over Thurston County, people are giving gifts, sharing what they have, and gathering from near and far to celebrate the bonds of family, friendship and community.
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It would be foolish, of course, to ignore all the ways that this holiday can go wrong for people who are in the midst of conflict, addiction, family dysfunction, illness or even just extreme grouchiness.
But all the ways this holiday can go wrong point to how to make it right. In the midst of all that is broken, all that is missing, and all that hurts, today shines a brilliant light on our capacity to forgive, to heal, and to share a sense of wonder and gratitude for the gift of life.
Even if you forgot to buy batteries for the kids’ toys, even if the turkey is dry, even if your drunken uncle passes out on the couch and snores loudly, this is a day for the deep joy of just knowing that redemption is always possible. You can get batteries tomorrow, you can turn that turkey into soup, and in the coming year, your uncle might just sober up.
The bottom line is that what makes a memorable and soul-satisfying Christmas is giving of yourself, not your stuff. What everyone around you needs today is you, and the light and warmth of your big, beautiful heart.