The Christmas Tree: Project 1225

At the end of 1999 I was the director of The Back Door. This was a project helping young people off the street. We found that Christmas often got lost in the rush around all the things that had to be done. Street people often became the object of something others felt they needed to do. Charities helping the poor became both the focus while at the same time the victim of the Christmas process. It was in this environment that the following moment brought a significant change to our Christmas time.

Christmas Day had come and gone. We should have taken the Christmas tree down. All the lights and ornaments had been removed. For some reason, however, the tree itself had not been taken down. A week went by, another week went by, before long the trees seemed to take on a life of it’s own.

One morning I came to the office and found a young man standing in front of the tree. He stood there dressed in a winter coat, one that was obviously too big for him.

As I watched him stand there I saw a change begin to happen. At first he had rushed into the room. Then it was as if the tree caught his attention and he stopped. It wasn’t long before tears were beginning to appear in his eyes. Then one tear ran down his cheek. There under the Christmas tree was a jacket. He picked it up. He looked at it. He then proceeded to remove his oversized coat. He took this new jacket and put it on. It fit perfectly. He never said a word as he gently folded his oversized coat. He then placed it under the tree. As he turned from the tree a smile formed on his face. He went on with his business. It was not long before the oversized coat had disappeared. Another coat had taken its place.

For many years that Christmas tree stayed in the office undecorated. It became a gathering place for people to quietly make an exchange. The tree without any ornamentation began to declare its own way. Christmas had gone beyond just the receiving of gifts. Christmas had gone beyond the mere ornamentation that is so common. Christmas is still celebrated by our people. On the 25th of every month there is a meal along side the tree. Christmas has become a way of life.

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