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All I Want for Christmas  

“Remember that song, All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth?”  Jack asks me.

“Of course,” I tell him.

“Saw a homeless person the other day that reminded me of that tune.”  Leave it to Jack to connect an iconic Christmas classic with a homeless person.

“The guy had almost no teeth—only one in front,” Jack mused.

“That’ll get your attention,” I offered, wondering where he was going.

“As I walk by, this semi-toothless person looks directly at me and says, ‘Have a safe weekend.’  And he shoves a plastic cup in my face. Didn’t say anything about money.  Didn’t need to.”

“So did you give him any?” I wondered.

“I ain't exactly Ebenezer Scrooge,” Jack mused. “But I rarely give these street people anything.  There are so many—and so many are fakes.  Just too burned out by ‘em.  So I tell him, “Hope you have a safe weekend, too,” and then shuffle into the train station—feeling guilty every step.”

I was hooked and was now compelled to wait while Jack shook his head and exhaled.  Slowly. Finally, he picked up the story. 

“I’m now feeling like that guy in James 2:16 who says to some needy person, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’ without giving them the basics of life.  So I walk back, drop a buck in the guy’s cup, and said, ‘Here ya go, Sir.’”

“And?”

(Jack squeezes his eyes shut). “And the homeless dude replies, “I'm a woman!” 

“No way!” I shout. 

“Well, not to be mean,” Jack offered, “but the face is creased and hard and all but lost in the hood of her ratty winter coat. And the voice is…well…cigarettes have a way of doin’ that,” he opined.  

“How awkward, Jack!”

“Fortunately, I’m still wearing my clip-on sunglasses, which I immediately tear off, blaming them for my ‘poor eyesight.’  Seemed like the best apology at the time. Not sure I covered my tracks, though.”

“I'm thinking no,” I said honestly to my friend.

“Homeless people,” Jack mumbles, his head hanging low. “Maybe I’ve been too harsh on ‘em.  Too judgmental.”

Silence.

 

Maybe I’ve been too harsh on them, too.

All they want for Christmas is…

…a little help.

…a little warmth.

…a little sense that someone knows they even exist. 

Does the reason they are homeless really matter after all?  Must these people meet our qualifications of neediness before we will part with a buck?  Or two?   Or ten? 

Shouldn’t just a little of that extravagant gift-giving God exemplified in sending Jesus to ungrateful rebels like ourselves show up in the cups of the homeless folks that cross our paths—even if some of them are cons?

Joy to the world—even (and maybe especially) to the homeless.

The Lord has come!

 

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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