Everyone's Not Celebrating

It’s here !

It’s Christmas eve, and we are a few hours away from doing the things we enjoy most about the holiday season; putting the finishing touches on the Christmas tree, making sure all the ingredients for that special Christmas dish are in place-otherwise you’ll be in trouble because Stop and shop will be closed on Christmas day- making sure the Kremas is in the fridge, hanging up the stalkings, wrapping the presents and putting them under the tree, or in my case panicking about the gift you are supposed to get the random dude that you got paired with for the family and friend gift exchange.

Can we just hit pause here real quick so I can rant ? I’m just gonna do it anyways.

I’ve seen the fella I’m supposed to be buying the gift for a few times, I don’t know ANYTHING about him! I told my sister I would give her the money for her to buy him a gift, just to ensure that he gets something that he would like, you feel me?

Do you know what this girl’s answer was?

“Why would I do that ? The point is for you to buy him something. Not me!”

WELL DUH! I know that sis. But she knows him much better than I do, so she has a better chance of hitting a home run with the gift. It’s not like he would even know.

I also went on to protest the fact that I got paired with a stranger, but of course she had something for that too! She said,

“I had nothing to do with that, I picked names out of a hat, you know that. I don’t know what you want me to do.”

Like dang sis! You’re not even gonna TRY to help a brother out ? You picked the name, and KNEW I didn’t know him. You couldn’t have put his name back in the hat and gave me one of my nephews or nieces instead?

I assume if you’re a gift giving expert, you’re probably reading this thinking to yourself, “Obed you’re being dramatic, your sister is right.” Well lets see YOU TRY BUYING A GIFT FOR SOMEONE YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT! Homie finna get a nice H&M sweater. #EpiDatsIT#Stressed!

To be honest, I am thankful for the fact that I can even be a part of something like this, because it wasn’t always like this when we were growing up. I can’t really remember times we spent together during the holidays in Haiti. I can’t recall any gifts that I received when I was younger, or gathering in the living room as a family to decorate a Christmas trees, or to sing Christmas carols.

I’m sure some of those things happened, but it wasn’t meaningful or consistent enough for me to make meaningful connections with the holiday season. As a result, when my friends would talk about their Christmas traditions with family and friends all I could do was listen, because I had a difficult time finding my “me too !” moment. Whether they saw Christmas as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, or they were simply looking forward to a visit from Santa, there was no doubt in my mind that I missed out on something.

About a year or two ago, one of my sisters (I will refer to her as #4) and her husband took it upon themselves to bring the family together as a whole to celebrate Christmas. We come together to eat, play games and exchange gifts, it’s pretty cool. But I am still not quite sure what drove her to do this. Maybe if she had a new understanding of Christmas, maybe she realized the true reason for the season cough JESUS cough, or maybe it was a fear of her kids growing up the same way we did, and this new Christmas gathering is an effort to give her kids as well as my other nieces and nephews something that we did not have ourselves, a Christmas tradition.

Either way, this Christmas thing is new to me, and I find myself asking a lot of questions sometimes:

What is Christmas really about ?

What makes the holiday season so special ?

Is it about the gifts ?

Is it about being with family and friends ?

What about those who are far away from their family and friends ?

What about the ones who aren’t fortunate enough to give or receive gifts ?

What about the homeless ?
Who’s looking out for the ones who are incarcerated ?

How can I celebrate when I know people are dying of hunger ?
Who’s thinking about the Syrian refugees ?

Who’s protecting the kids who were separated from their loved ones at the border ? What do they have to celebrate ?

What’s there to celebrate when there’s been about 973 black people shot and killed by the police this year alone ?

How can I celebrate when Flint Michigan still doesn’t have clean water ?

While I’m stressing over what gift to buy for this fella, there are folks right here on US soil is dying of hunger. Yes it’s in Africa, in Haiti and other places in the world too that’s for sure, but we don’t have to look far away to find undesirable and inhumane conditions of life.

So what’s the solution ?

Should you feel compelled to pack your belongings and fly to Syria ? Should you feel bad about having clean water, food to eat, shelter and family and friends to celebrate Christmas with ?

No! Certainly not.

Cherish the times spent with loved ones, give and receive as much as you can. However, don’t forget the ones who are in need. Think about the less fortunate, find ways to reach out to those in need of shelter and food. Visit those who are incarcerated, invite the international student or coworker over for Christmas. Sign petitions and donate money to causes that will keep families intact. If you can’t do any of those things, maybe grab clothes from your closet and find someone on the street who could use it and gift it to them. Be the mouthpiece for someone in need of a voice.

Like I said before I am new to this Christmas thing, so I’m not going to speak like I know the right way to approach the issues. I certainly don’t give everything I have to the needy, and they’re not always on my mind. But is that the way it should be ? Does our giving really matter if we do it because it’s the holidays ? Shouldn’t the “spirit of giving” go beyond the 25th of December?

There are a handful questions to ask and lessons to be learned, but if I’ve learned anything about Christmas, I know that it’s about hope.

The hope of the world in Jesus Christ.

The hope that Santa will come through with the perfect gift.

A simple act of kindness can give someone the hope that they need to continue living. Remember, not everyone is celebrating.

Obed Jean PierreComment