A Happy Christmas Memory Created
Dear Luke House People,
I want to thank you for all the meals and kindness you have given me. Thanks for a place to come to have a warm meal, and in the process to get to feel a little nice. You have been a big help and a real blessing. I’m not sure I would have made it this far without you. And I also want to thank you for something else.
Mid-November this year I ran into a guy I know from being on the streets. After the normal, “Hey, what’s up?” I asked what he thought he was going to do for Thanksgiving. His answer kind of stuck with me and started me thinking a bit.
He said, “Well, I will try to catch the meal at the Luke House.” I understood. You make a wonderful home cooked kind of dinner that he was thankful for. I knew that his “try to catch…” didn’t mean his social calendar might be too crowded to fit it in, but that being homeless means constant uncertainties. Lots of things could make him have to miss it, ranging from weather, health or injuries to broken boots or the shorter holiday bus schedule.
He explained, “The holiday meals at Luke House are always great,” thought a moment and added with a big smile, “especially on Christmas!” We hung on that for a couple of beats and wished each other well. As we parted I started remembering. There was a time growing up when the Christmas Season was very special, almost magical. It was a cheerful celebration full of music, lights, and the fun of exchanging presents. But gradually, over time, things changed.
First, the season lost its glow. As the years passed it began to mean frustration and hassle, tension and conflict. Letting my thoughts go this way was my own fault, but I came to dread the whole thing. Then homeless, without any support network, it became a new kind of worse. Cold, lonely, and no place to go whatsoever. I tried to ignore it, pretended it wasn’t happening, and hoped it would be over soon. Later that year, I heard on the streets about the meals at Luke House and started coming regularly. Around the later part of December there was an announcement about the holiday meal schedule. Great! Food, something to do and somewhere to go! And that’s how I came to your first Christmas event. I remember arriving early and being surprised how many people were already in line. Folks seemed a little more upbeat than usual. And, a kind of subtle excitement and anticipation seemed to ripple up and down the line. Guys were going out of their way to invite parents with kids to get ahead of them in line.
As it started to get dark outside, the line began moving and we came into the entry area. There was a volunteer seating those ahead of us and a little wait for our turn. It was relaxed. No one felt desperate or worried there wouldn’t be enough. Looking into the dining room we could smell the aroma of the food, hear the sound of Christmas music in the background, and see some of the decorations. The lights were low and a soft glow shone through the doorway. The volunteers were dressed up in holiday outfits and smiling.
When it came our turn, we were seated and served a wonderful dinner complete with all the fixings. And we took turns getting up to help ourselves to even more food on a long side table. I was astounded how good it all was. The tables were really filling up with all those plates. There was more talking and laughter than I expected. Everyone was definitely in the holiday spirit, enjoying the company and the meal. And we really filled up on all the goodness.
People who aren’t homeless should get to eat this well. And they should definitely get to feel the kindness and comfort of that room. On the way out, there were gifts of some useful and needed things we could take with us. We walked back out into the night with a special warmth in our hearts. It was a very human feeling. I like to feel that way.
I have been to several of your Christmas meals since. And when I think of the Christmas Season now, I think of Christmas meal at Luke House. You have put something back into my heart that was missing and for that I am grateful.
Things are beginning to look up a little for me. I can look ahead to maybe getting back on my feet. Going forward, though, I don’t think anything will ever mean Christmas to me more than what you do.
Thank you for your Christmas Meal. I’m sure we will see each other. I am definitely going to try to make it.
The Luke House serves special meals on the holidays. We need your help to provide the food, prepare the meals and serve our guests. Consider helping us at this time. The holiday meals truly brighten the season for our guests who look to the Luke House for hospitality and holiday cheer. If you can help, please call Paul Ashe at 256-6325.
One Way To Truly Give
This Thanksgiving brought the usual hustle and bustle: potato pealing, pie drop offs, many volunteers and much needed help. As the day drew near, a good friend of the Community Meal Program called me and asked if he could come to the Luke House on Thanksgiving. We had all the help we needed, but I said “of course.” Sometimes around the holidays, the Luke House becomes a safe haven from grief or other sadness as much for the volunteers as for our guests. Thanksgiving arrived and I didn’t see this particular volunteer. After sometime I spotted him. He was in the line to be seated to eat quietly talking with a guest. I know this volunteer well. He had other places to be and people to be with on the holiday yet he chose to quietly join us and share a meal. At the end of the meal he thanked us and went on his way. This longtime friend of the Luke House exhibited a level of humility that was so genuine. It struck me and I’ve thought about it often since. He gave of his presence, and the enjoyment of a meal. Another day I’m sure he’ll come and work and he has been a gracious financial contributor. But this season, he gave humbly. I’m truly grateful. Thank you all for your continued ministry of hospitality.