Saturday, December 13, 2008


Every once in awhile i write a post and save it only as a draft - for a couple of reasons. Sometimes, just not sure if i want all eyes on my thoughts on a certain issue (you notice the typical lightness of my topics), sometimes re-evaluating my motives for a post, and other reasons. This is one such post.

Yesterday i was in a LONG line at the bank - i was there for 30 minutes! Our bank is in the lower-income part of town (i like to call it the "ghetto" but it isn't exactly a ghetto). Friday was pay day, and Christmas is in less than 2 weeks. People were frantic to deposit and withdraw cash. The couple in front of me wanted to withdraw cash even though they did not have the funds in their account - what is that, denae - a cash advance or something? They were desperate for the cash and the lady had to deny them because they had a cash advance (or whatever it is called) only two weeks prior.

When i got back to the store, there was a lady waiting at the bus stop outside of starbucks with a grocery cart full of groceries. I thought that if she was still there when i got off that i should offer to drive her and her groceries home.

Two weeks ago a man confronted me in the grocery store parking lot at night asking me for money. I made him come into the store with me before i would open my purse for him - but i gave him all the cash i had which was VERY little. He was discouraged.

The store next door was robbed a few weeks ago.

Starbucks is cutting hours majorly. Our partners aren't working enough to support themselves. They come to work with dirty aprons and are freezing in our drive-thru window - almost all of my partners have caught cold in the last 3 weeks since the temps have plummeted. I ask them to wash their aprons and think about buying some long-sleeve shirts to wear to work. They explain to me that they can't even afford money for Christmas gifts, let alone weekly laundry and new clothes.

I am surrounded by people in desperation living from pay check to pay check and on top of it all, are burdened by the desire (or pressure) to be buying gifts for loved ones. To have a "good" Christmas.

I think of them and their hurting and am so grateful for the steady income that provides Landon and i with the opportunity to pay our bills, eat, AND purchase gifts for those we love. perspective.

I also think about our Christmas in Africa. We were without the commercialism of Christmas in the States. We didn't have a Christmas tree. We decided not to buy gifts for each other. Instead, only bought chickens for friends so they could have a richer celebration with their families. And we spent Christmas morning with the orphans, and afternoon eating potatoes and pies with other missionaries. And we were surrounded by people in far greater poverty than those we live near here, yet they celebrated Christmas and anticipated it with amazing joy. They celebrated Christmas with praise to God for his greatest gift - for becoming man and joining us, loving us, and sacrificing his own life for us so that we could live in joy and wholeness despite what we have lost or are without in our lives. They knew that in having Christ, we have everything - there is nothing greater. And celebrating Christmas with that perspective was so refreshing and humbling and honest and joyous and beautiful.

Being in America and seeing the greed and despair of our culture during this most precious celebration is heartbreaking. But it is there, and there is only one Hope.


em said...

so glad you published this. i've been thinking about this a lot actually because i myself am on a pretty tight budget; but this whole season, i think largely because of the H2O campaign, i've had a different perspective. i still love all the festivity and gift-giving is one of the things that brings me the most joy...yet i have a renewed and extremely deep appreciation this year for the gifts that aren't 'things': time, relationship, being in the presence of those you love, etc. i think America is getting a big wake-up call about our own perspective (as you put it) and albeit painful, i think it's actually really good for us. thanks for sharing!

Lindsey said...

what an awesome post hannah! i have also been thinking about this as i watch friends struggle to live pay-check to pay-check and want nothing more than to be able to go home for Christmas! i'm at the point right now that i have felt so guilty having 2 jobs, working a combined 40 hours a week, and not having to pay for rent or food that my perspective about why i go to work everyday and make money has changed drastically.

Denae and Josh said...

hey, a cash advance is from your credit card. Usually at a much higher rate and cannot be paid off first. sucks! anyways, i liked the post. lots to think about. hope to see you soon.