Each year I struggle with what will I make for the holidays. Will it be something new and different? I have made everything from a lutefisk dinner/a ham meal/hamloaf/ Norwegian meatballs/ English Prime Rib dinner to the appetizer party. I have never made a Christmas Soup like some family members make each year. I have always wanted to do a seafood dish like someone I know stirs up. (The problem is that my husband is very allergic to shell fish.)
Then I think of those who don’t have extras, and I contemplate what a minimalist would serve for Christmas Eve dinner. I think of what its like to live in poverty and to not know what the next meal will be. Women, children, people are starving in Duluth as well as other parts of the world.
I think about the family that our church is sponsoring, a Salvation Army family. (We do this every year.) Their children sleep on the floor because they don’t have beds, they have asked for a Christmas meal, bunk beds and presents. Will our small little church be able to sponsor a bunk bed with so many other missions? We have a whole tree full of wants and needs, as we each pick ornaments to buy things for this family. Some church members have unemployed family members, so they pick what they can afford to help the Christmas puzzle piece be filled in.
Then I think back , “Did I send out my check to Chum, The Salavation Army, and The Union Gospel Mission this year?” I have flashbacks of my son’s Eagle project one year, the scouts canvased the neighborhood for hats, coats, mittens, boots, blankets, and scarves. It involved so much that it was all placed in our outside garage and had to be cataloged before it was donated to Al down at the Mission. It was quite the project that had to have prior approval and then final approval. The delivery was quite the event and a joyous event to be remembered for years to come.
I think about the years when my children were young. I use to tell them, “You can’t get any new toys, unless you donate your other toys to The Union Gospel Mission.” I remember those trips to the mission to drop off these toys. I think about toys, some teach kids, some take up space, and some are fluff.”
Check out the needs of the Union Gospel Mission. http://www.duluth-ugm.org/
Then there is Chum. I think of the workshop my husband and I took through Duluth Public Schools on poverty. We went to Chum, The Chum Drop In Center and so many other places that represent poverty in our city Did we learn about poverty or what? For many years I have driven though the alley at Chum and dropped off canned foods. After a diagnosis of cancer, I called to see if I could drop off all the packaged meat in my freezer. Did you know that these folks trudge up the hill with their box of canned goods? We in Duluth buy so many bags of food. They have to live on what they get.
Poverty is everywhere. I remember the Chum shelf with very few mittens, hats, and scarves on it. They were in desperate need of more. There’s the Chum Drop In Center. Some of the Kozy folks are there now. They have clothes in boxes to dig through. Their belongings are in lockers or in the storage unit. There are a few floors of people. The most impactful for us was the mattresses on the floor, next to someone’s smelly boots. I compare it to being like a dog on a matt. How can this be in this day and age? How can people be sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the dead cold of winter? I think about their group living room plain, no reading materials or brochures. Check out their needs at: http://www.chumduluth.org/
The Salvation Army is a great organization that helps our community. Many organizations that I belong to give to the Salvation Army. They take new toys for kids, canned goods, and money to help their mission. I can recall lots of memories. I have a friend who use to be a social worker for The Salvation Army. I have flashbacks of bringing boxes of canned goods there for different organizations. I think of my aunt always adding money for bell ringing each time she passed them. My husband has done bell ringing for various organizations for them many times. In fact, he is doing it today. Recently we did gift wrapping for The Salvation Army. Out of the goodness of their hearts many folks gave large donations and others gave what they could. Check out their website: http://thesalarmy.org/
I look at my Christmas tree of memories and think of all the people who gave to my family project. Our tree is ornaments were given by parents, students and children. I put it up each year unless we are our of town or out of the country. Relatives have given dated oraments. There are ornaments that I have made with my children 1 on 1, in craft classes, and one’s I selected due to the meaning. My children have boxes of their oranments that may someday grace their family tree. I put up this tree each year even though I don’t have any grandchildren to reminince on the wonderful memories. It replaces the bad memories of the German lead tinsel laden tree so covered with it’s silverness as a child.
Then I think about what Christmas really is. It is caring about others. It’s not what you eat but the real geniune sincerity of others. Those who care more for others. I recall Sara’s song, Holy Angels. There are many Holy Angels in our lives. (This song brought tears to my husband’s eyes at a fall memorial recently.)