Not Just a Cup of Coffee

Perhaps the chestnuts are not roasting, nor do you have a sleigh with ringing bells. It may not be cold or snowy for a white Christmas. For most however, you are with family or close friends. Some are totally alone today; their family lives too far away or are no longer with them. The friends are scattered, so they spend their holiday in isolation. What about those whose family live close by and yet choose to exclude their loved ones?

For over four decades, when the Thanksgiving table had been cleared and the annual football games began, I was well underway with my plans and preparations for the Christmas holiday.  Aside from the gift shopping and wrapping, there was the baking to share with family, friends and neighbors.

For many years, custom making Christmas gifts or holiday outfits for my children was as much a tradition as the sugar cookies and fudge. Although my budget was limited in those early years, my desire to provide “perfect as possible” memories was limitless. I have always believed my time and effort were the greatest gifts I could give to others, with my family being the largest recipient.

My desire to share God’s love with others is a gift I’ve offered graciously. It has allowed me to invite more than one guest to our dinner table when I realized they were spending the holiday alone. However, for eight years while my children, their families and my then husband, Charles celebrate with one another, I’ve been alone.

Because I had spent another Thanksgiving alone less than a month earlier, I began praying earnestly that God would not allow a repeat performance.  Countless times I have volunteered at homeless shelters or community dinners, but it has become emotionally difficult; always a reminder of my seclusion.

I didn’t know if my prayer would be answered “yes” or perhaps “dittoed” as the others. God hadn’t caused my family to exclude me, but He allowed it. I always realized there was a reason which only God understood. As my pastor reminded me last year; the more I’m alone the closer God and I become.

As I casually walked into Starbucks on December 17th and met a total stranger, he queried of my holiday plans.  Sharing I would be alone, his reply was more rapid than a cheetah chasing his prey. “Oh no, you will be with my family. There is no need to be alone.”

I was tearful, as I had given this gift to others and now God was giving it to me. I would spend Christmas with him and his family in a nearby town. I didn’t hesitate, even though I knew nothing about this man whom I had met only minutes earlier. I realized this was God’s reply, so no reason to be disquieted. Matt. 25:35 NKJ, “…you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in.”

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