"The pavement was hard and uncomfortable. The temperature was warm, I guess that was a plus, but my body was covered with a chill. I wasn't sure if I was sick but I was certainly stressed out of my mind, not knowing where I was going to be sleeping tomorrow...or the next day...or the day after that.
"My stomach turned with the pangs of hunger. I lifted my hand up to brush a few hairs off my forehead that had fallen from my hair tie. The smell made me cringe; I hadn't been able to wash properly in about a week. My clothes were now bearing the scent and every time I moved I would get a waft.
"They say, 'Merry Christmas', but I don't know what's so merry about spending December on the streets. This isn't what I had planned – of course, no one plans this. But like it or not, I was here. I was hungry and I was uncomfortable, and well, for me, this would be Christmas.
"I adjusted my position on the pavement to ease my aching bones. Maybe someone would give me enough $$ for breakfast...
"With a strong dose of sarcasm the words "Merry Christmas" rolled through my mind." (Fictional reflection)
More Than Tinsel
Last night I was out for a Christmas dinner. It was my first African dining experience and it's fair to say that as soon as the spicy combination of chickpeas and pepitas hit my taste buds that my mind literally blew!! By the time the chicken ribs came out I had no words. I literally felt like a superstar eating some of the world's most delicious food.
Funnily enough though as the night drew to a close and we got ready to leave, instead of feeling full of the Christmas joy, I just couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt deep in my gut. Whilst I had been gorging myself stupid I knew that there was literally thousands of people in Melbourne who would be hungry and sleeping rough on the streets that night.
It's times like these that I don't really know what to do. I mean, what can a 22 year old do for so many people?
Yet somehow, despite these feelings, minutes later I was marching off in the pursuit of a soy chai latte to sooth my after dinner craving...
Along the way I found myself drawn to a classy Christmas display in a prominent shop front. Before I knew it I had joined the flurry of wide-eyed people taken by the display who stood fascinated by all the special effects that were making it come to life.
I can't tell you how long I was standing there before I realised a beat that had been drowned out by the Christmas buzz. I followed the noise and turned to look to find a humble guy who was sitting behind the crowd playing some beats on a makeshift drum kit. How on earth had I not seen him?
In an instant I was immediately overcome by the oxymoron of the whole situation: Christmas is a time where we remember that God sent his Son to earth to show us what He is like and to provide for us the very thing that was needed to save our lives. Christmas is about celebrating God's selfless sacrifice and gift to us through His son Jesus. It's about giving. It's about a gift of provision. It's about a gesture of love.
A moment's realisation
Yet in this moment Christmas had apparently become about sparkling and well-decorated shop fronts. And in the oddity of it all I watched as a man sat drumming his kit staring at the backside of Christmas.
Suddenly a soy chai latte was no longer important to me. I walked over and handed the drummer my $5. "Merry Christmas", I said. His shocked and smiling face said the rest.
It was in this moment that I remembered that this is what Christmas is about.
"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." – Charles Dickens
Charlotte (Charley) works in youth ministry and is studying a Bachelor of Theology at a bible college in Melbourne. Charley enjoys writing children's stories, playing guitar and dreaming the impossible.
Charley Goiris' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/charley-goiris.html