Holidays can be depressing. It brings up memories of those we have lost, reflections of where we want to be, and discomfort if you are spending it alone.
There are advent calendars to countdown to this day, and which could be the pinnacle of misery. Or perhaps not.
My husband is working 100 hours during this holiday week and therefore I am alone. But yesterday I wasn’t.
On Xmas Eve, I spent several hours carrying around goodies to give the homeless in London. My brother John Paul, who lives in Los Angeles, came up with the idea. We are both alone this December 25th on opposite sides of the world. , and instead of wallowing we will serve others.
When he told me of this idea, I agreed how great it was and asked what we should call it. “Christmas Socks.” Pun intended.
Although I have lived in England for several years, I admit I didn’t know where to find loads of homeless people. My brother offered to find a shelter, “it won’t be listed on tripsdvisor.”
And so I purchased 50 Socks , placed a granola bar in each of them , and a Hafiz quote that says “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being .”
My journey began, taking the hour long tube ride to Shoreditch.
Within several minutes, I delivered my first pair, and then another. I had no direct path to follow. I was simply searching for the homeless on the street. I realised what an active process it was seeking out people I usually tried to hide my eyes from. It saddened me as I did this, sometimes from far away I couldn’t distinguish if I was seeing trash or a person. How awful so many of us choose to turn away versus turn towards. I know I am generally guilty of this.
Sometimes when I offered Socks they were alert and could say thank you , other times they were asleep trying to stay warm under layers of shirts and blankets.
After delivering 10 Socks, I realised how exhausting it was to search and scan for people who are trying to not be seen. I stopped in Spitafields Market, where I knew volunteers would be who sold calendars to support the homeless. All photographers featured in the calendar were local homeless people.
I informed them of my activity for the day and asked where the homeless lived. They said, “let’s ask Richard, he’s homeless.” Richard was excited of the idea I had and offered additional places I could go. His face lit up when I informed him that my brother out in California was doing this too and spoke of his time he lived in the West Coast. The volunteers even offered me a gift of a calendar as a thank you for the work I was doing. Richard was excited that I could send this to my brother and autographed the calendar. I wasn’t expecting anything from anyone, and was so grateful for this kind gesture. I was trying to give, and didn’t expect to receive.
My journey continued, as I delivered a total of 29 pairs of socks. I wish I could have delivered all 50. I felt this was not enough , as I know there is more I could do to serve others. With the remaining 21 pairs, I may continue this offering into the new year.
But what this small act of kindness did, was it eliminated the loneliness and self pity I had for being alone. It reminded of the larger global and local problems that are in our atmosphere. It’s true that when we are feeling depressed and want delve on a downward spiral, all we need to do is reach out to help others. This act can assist in lifting us up.
Throughout the day, I witnessed suffering, gratitude, and surprisingly more kindness. I observed a Londoner buying a meal for someone I had just delivered Socks to. He stayed and spoke with this man for an extended amount of time. If I wasn’t searching for the homeless I wouldn’t have seen it. I would have turned away, like so many do.
Can we keep our eyes open to be present for the beauty around us?
I hope this holiday season is filled with gratitude and love for you. And if possible please share some warmth to those that need it…
We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.-Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
For more information on purchasing a calendar please check out the website below: http://cafeart.org.uk
Originally published at itonlytakesasmile.com