When you ain't got nothin', you got nothin' to lose. Bob Dylan, Like A Rolling Stone
I've been reminded of this phrase often in our recent economic turmoil. People in Oklahoma start out having less than people in most other states, so the recession hasn't hit us as hard. When you are already unemployed, there's no job to lose. When companies can't afford to hire nonessential employees, there's no one to lay off. We have had to tighten our belts in many areas, but it has not been as devastating as in states, say, like California.
I was reading Jim Daly's blog post DEAR SANTA about Operation Santa and helping people in need at Christmas. One reader commented that she and her family had nothing to give this year but she would pray for the children and Operation Santa. She went on to say that instead of going out, her family watches a movie together for entertainment. They have a TV and electricity and maybe cable and/or a DVD player. They go for drives to look at Christmas lights. They have a car. She bakes cookies with her children. She has an oven, maybe even gas, and money to buy the ingredients for cookies. That's a luxury for people on food stamps.
Having nothing may be a matter of perspective. Our most poverty stricken people are much better off than many people living in third world countries. We have homeless people in Lawton (the Salvation Army calls them professional hobos) who choose to live on the streets. They can spend the day at the public library and get a meal at the Salvation Army and a place to sleep on the floor when the temperatures dip below freezing. (The Salvation Army provides housing for people who want to move out of their homeless situation.)
My town of Indiahoma is poverty level living, but a lot of neat things happen at Christmas. The Sheriff's department delivers Christmas dinners to people in need around town. We have an angel tree program at the school. Teachers recommend children for the tree, parents given permission and then community members, churches and other groups buy the things on the children's wish lists. Churches go caroling which is fun for the kids and a joy to the people who open their doors to a Christmas serenade. There are Christmas programs to attend that include goodie bags and refreshments. This all may not sound like much, but it makes Christmas time special here in Indiahoma, and it's free! This is what we are used to, we haven't lost a thing.
No man is poor who has friends. In Indiahoma we are more family than friends because we squabble and are mean to each other. But, bottom line, when it matters, we are there for each other.
Jesus came to reconcile people to God, not to give us material wealth abundant. (Although the Wise Men did bring Jesus some interesting presents.) Focus on the people around you, concentrate on relationships, and you will have the merriest Christmas ever!