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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Ghost of Christmas Past...

There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries. ~W.J. Cameron

I had visions of simplifying Christmas this year...helped inordinately by Singapore,Ditz'spox & the fact the boys are coming over late ~ & won't stay long. I wasn't even going to put up a tree.

"But where", wailed Liddy, "shall I put my presents?!" And put up the tree so she had somewhere to deposit all the things she doesn't want cluttering up her room.

Tradition has a strong grip on the heart & the imagination. Habits are hard to break. God has moved me so far to the left of centre I would be happy to let this season pass unmarked ~ & unmourned ~ but that journey is mine alone. The girls, who have shared so much of it with me this year, are still rooted in the Christian traditions of their childhood: tree, nativity, presents, Christmas pancakes, festival food. There is nothing wrong with any of these things.Except....I worked for a number of years as the house mother of a refuge for homeless youth & Christmas is the saddest time of the year. I'd have a houseful of kids 12~16 with nowhere to go & no expectation of receiving anything at all. Used to break my heart. One year we were a little more solvent than usual & I bought a dozen cheap K~mart mugs with a bag of lollies inside ~ one for each kid. You'd think I'd given them the moon.

That was the kids but there was a shelter for homeless men ~ always full ~ & the shelter for battered women [always full for Christmas] ~ & the one for the Aboriginal kids. So much sadness & it all comes to a head at Christmas. Christmas comes with ghosts. I always wonder where those kids are & how their lives turned out come Christmas. Did they turn their lives around? Did things get better? Did they recover from the drugs & the abortions & the sex? Did they make a better life for their kids & love them more? Or did they repeat the cycle of poverty & lovelessness? Did we make a difference at all? And one particular girl ~ not the brightest spark in the fire ~ a baby with the sweetest little baby but whose baby was horribly murdered by a boarder staying at their house. I never think of her without a pang.

The first year we shut the house at 10am as we were told to do because we had no funding to stay open for the day & turned our houseful of kids out onto the empty Christmas streets. We never did it again, arranging our Christmas at the house so we could stay open all day without pay...& every year there were more kids. Every year there are more kids. Kids with nowhere to go Christmas morning. Kids nobody wants. Kids with no expectations of receiving anything at all from anyone. I'm not even game to look up the stats on this one but hey, despite the recession we had to have Australians are spending more than they ever have in the shops. The retailers are looking a fat bonus in the eye. The bins out the back are full of food that won't keep over the Christmas break.

Is it any wonder I look at Christmas with a slightly jaundiced eye?


Mrs. C said...

Ganeida, I understand completely where you're coming from, those mixed feelings about Christmas. :]

Anonymous said...

Hi Ganeida,
How I wish that I could make a difference, a REAL difference to a child's life in Australia this Christmas.

Six Colombian children are the ones that we have been able to help, as their parents have been martyred for their faith, and the children have (if they're really blessed) been taken in by the aunts and uncles. The link below is to Voice of the Martyrs, Australia, and tells about the children of Colombia.


Ganeida said...

MrsC: I'm glad someone does. ☺ I'm sure a downer but I just can't get all dewey eyed about Christmas. I've been to the dark side...

Jillian: A friend used to send me her VOM when she was done with it. I had to stop reading it. The needs are so overwhelming & I can do so little. It's great that you have been able to help someone, brothers & sisters in Christ too.

Jan Lyn said...

Oh Ganeida, I do understand the liquid feelings on the season. I've think it a brave thing to even make little changes each year to minimize some of the commercialism and show. My kiddos have been raised right there in the midst of the same traditions. (How I'd like to choose again how to start our traditions!) My heart goes out to the children, the homeless, in fact I feel helpless as that was where our hearts were and we can no longer give as we did in that area due to my problems, but every small attempt--even prayer for these often forgotten ones can make a difference. I wish you comfort and peace of the season to replace some of the aches you feel.
With love,
Jan Lyn

Ganeida said...

Jan Lyn: We've always been fairly low key but I refuse to buy into the commercialism point blank any more. It causes so much untold heart ache each year. They were quoting the stats on people seeking aid from our charities for Christmas & the numbers are staggering! Anything that causes so much unnecessary distress is highly questionable in my book.

seekingmyLord said...

Alright, now I feel *terribly* privileged and ashamed (to add to other concerns I have had)! I was one of those really poor children, but my grandmother always made sure we had clothes and toys. Food and utilities are not so much of concern to children as they are for parents.

We have been pulling ourselves out of debt, but we did give an Angel Food Package to one family who lost their home and had to sell their horses, a member of our 4-H Club. As a group, the 4-H Club also does a great deal for outside charities. Every month at least there is some project and it is a very good thing, but the club members are buffered from those to which they are giving. I think my daughter is of the age now that she should see with her own eyes and heart those who have such needs.

A change of perspective can be a very good thing, but in her case I am concerned because she would give away our last dollar if I let her, not because she does not understand the necessity and value of money now (allowance helped her get that idea down) but because she truly is that generous. She begged me for over a week to send money to a charity she heard about on the radio one day and even tried to shame me into it! I hope she is able to keep those skills, as she would be quite the money raiser for missions.

Sorry for the length. I think my brain is in rambling mode right now and it seems I cannot get it to stop. I guess I do that when I am concerned about other things too much.