This Friday afternoon the Centre of Hope, that humble little building on Franklin Avenue, hosts their annual Christmas party for the patrons. Our local homeless and near-homeless will gather together for an afternoon, and I have been invited to join them, simply to bring them my best wishes. And maybe to some a homeless drop-in program isn't where they find their Christmas spirit - but every year the patrons there remind of the true meaning of the season, and they help me find my joy, and hope, again.
And then when I am done there I will head over to Father Mercredi High School, where my buddy Matt and I will join the gang from Santas Anonymous and deliver some Christmas hampers. We did this together last year, not only having fun while doing it but helping an initiative that is one of my very favourites in this city, and one that moves me to tears every single year when I think about how a group of high school students is quietly not just changing people's Christmas, but their lives.
Christmas joy and hope is not found in boxes and bows. It is not in wrapping paper, or gifts, or turkeys. Christmas joy is found in giving of yourself to others, and in sharing with others your hope and spirit. It is in the quiet shared coffee with a homeless friend, or the smile from someone who didn't even know that you were coming to deliver an entire festive celebration to them.
Every year I watch several Christmas themed movies and television specials. And every year this is one of my favourites, the ending reminding me that maybe Christmas means a little bit more. And every year as my eyes fill with tears and my heart swells I think about how sometimes finding Christmas means just losing yourself in others, and helping them to find theirs.