When our family was grown and beginning to go out on their own into the world, Christmas Day was not always a convenient time for everyone to be together. Our last to get married, Rob, and our youngest son, Don, would often be the only two home and we would hold off our family celebration until the rest could join us a few days later.
One year Rob suggested we use the day to reach out to others by going to one of the places in our area that serve meals to the homeless and less fortunate on Christmas Day. I thought it was a great idea and just after Thanksgiving that year began to make phone calls to various organizations to volunteer the four of us for Christmas Day.
One by one I checked off the names on my list. Each response was, "We appreciate you volunteering but we have all the volunteers we can handle. You need to call much earlier in the year if you want to help out on Christmas Day."
I was stunned. I had never heard of any volunteer organizations turning away people who were willing to, well, volunteer. Instead of serving a meal to the homeless that year, we gathered together people we knew who did not have family close by or had no family to share their Christmas. It was a wonderful time of fellowship for all of us.
I guess the moral of the story is if you want to serve the homeless a meal choose a time when the help is truly needed. Obviously at the holidays everyone wants to help. And our alternative at Christmas is still a great idea for bringing lonely folk together.