When a child, I marveled at the lights and ornaments on the grand Christmas tree in the family living room. Fresh pine needles emitted sweetness; wrapped gifts overflowed from under its lower branches. What more could Santa bring? All that remain from my childhood are memories. For those who have read or are reading my memoir, “Out of Chaos,” you might remember that I have no childhood pictures.
This season, on Christmas morning, as friends gathered with their families, I stayed home; just me and my pet birds.
Christmas afternoon then dawned as I stepped outside onto my house’s front porch. Morning frost had since melted, but a chill remained. I pulled my hat over my ears and made my way to my garage. Then I drove to the The Esther Marie Hatton Center and Shelterhouse for Women, where I met up with friends in the shelter’s kitchen.
Their dinner hour is shared with community members who prepare and serve a warm meal for them, cafeteria style in a large dining room. Christmas dinner was no exception. And I’m happy my friends and I could be with them this Christmas.
Like me, many women at this shelter are also without the traditional family holiday gathering. This shelter is their refuge. It is a place with resources to regain strength, purpose, empowerment, and stability.
They lined up at our kitchen counter, accepting a full dinner plate from us. Their faces and kind remarks showed me their gratitude and their hope for better times in the new year. A tall Christmas tree stood at the far end of the room, decorated and lit. Rather than gifts hugging the tree’s lower branches, it was women hugging each other, in friendship and merriment. Although life is tough for these women, the exchange of a caring spirit brightens the season.
Christmas has passed but the needs of these women and others remain.
I hope you will consider sharing your hope and strength with others whenever and wherever you can. Aside from the below mentioned resources, consider calling the shelters in your area to ask how best to be of service. Nationwide, there are no less than 5000 shelters. We have a lot of homeless people in America. Too many!
A great resource for discovering where in your community could use a helping hand is the website for Homeless Shelter Directory. From its front page, click on the map, picking out your state. From there, it links to a page which lists not only places in need, but also the contact details.
Homeless Shelter Directory, a nation-wide resource.
The Esther Marie Hatton Center and Shelterhouse for Women, Cincinnati.
Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.
Please share in the comments of your thoughts on the theme of bringing community and holidays together.
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