I read this article from The Denver Post.
Since I started at the Mission, my thoughts about the holidays have shifted. I use to think that everyone loved the holidays, that everyone felt the little warm fuzzies from memories of Christmases past.
But then you have conversations. Real, honest conversations.
For the homeless and families living in poverty, the holidays seem to only emphasize their material poverty or bring up painful reminders.
But I really don’t think you have to be homeless or living in poverty to feel overwhelmed by the holidays.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching. These days are filled with the opportunity to reflect on blessings, to give thanks, to experience the wonder and joy of our Savior. But then there’s the pressure of preparing a feast, going to parties, buying gifts (lots too).
Here are some examples of holiday spending (taken from Bruce DeBoskey’s article)
• Just this year, U.S. shoppers spent $350 million on Halloween costumes for their pets.
• Americans just spent $7 billion on Halloween — more than the entire world spends each year on malaria prevention and treatment programs. More than 1,400 children die from malaria each day.
• The amount of money spent on candy alone during the holiday season is greater than the combined annual budgets of the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and Habitat for Humanity.
• Each year, Americans spend more than $2.5 billion on wrapping paper, consuming tens of millions of trees and generating millions of tons of trash.
At the same time:
• More than one in four working families in Colorado do not have enough food to meet basic needs.
• Nearly one in seven Colorado seniors is sometimes unsure of getting a meal.
• In the U.S., 40 percent of food is wasted — the equivalent of $165 billion each year. Reducing this number by just 15 percent would provide enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans — and would dramatically reduce landfill methane emissions.
• In developing countries, a child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of 5.
Now, I don’t mean to damper the holidays. I really don’t. I enjoy purchasing gifts for others and gathering around the table with my family, friends and community. At the same time, let’s not lose sight of why we gather, why we celebrate, and let’s not forget the people around us who don’t have community, or resources to prepare a feast. Invite others to your table.
At the Mission, we have many ways to bless others during the holidays.
Thanksgiving: Donate a turkey. The turkeys will be distributed to men, women and families so they can, with dignity, prepare a meal. Turkeys will also be used to provide meals at the Mission.
Christmas: Adopt-A-Family: Bring hope and joy to a needy family this Christmas.
Donate blankets, socks, gloves, hats, and canned food items. Items can be dropped off here: 1130 Park Ave West, Denver.