Thinking Out Loud

December 22, 2016

Christmas Alone

cd-on-cd-editedI’ve mentioned elsewhere on the blog that each Christmas Day our family has assisted, in varying degrees, with a project started here over a decade ago, the Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day.

The December 25th noontime meal — a full turkey-and-all-the-trimmings dinner — originated in a community that my wife co-founded, the purpose of which was to serve people on the margins, people living on welfare, or working people unable to have good, nutritious, tasty food.

But as we engaged people in conversation, we realized that many people attending were people of means. There was a donation box if people cared to help out, and some of these people had no hesitation in dropping a $20 bill or even $50. The reason is simple: They just didn’t want to be alone on Christmas Day. They wanted to feel part of a community.

Many of these accomplished this by serving as volunteers. There was no shortage of people willing to help in the kitchen — where my oldest son served as lead cook — or as table hosts. If pressed however, they would confess that their need to be with other people on the 25th was equal or greater to the poor people we were serving, but it was social, not financial.


Alone on Christmas Day.

That’s something I can’t imagine. In her later years, transporting my mom to our place simply got too complicated. As I stated, my wife had been a co-founder of the organization from which the Christmas Dinner was a spinoff, but we hadn’t attended the earlier iterations of it because of my mother staying with us. But when that ceased to be an option — we then visited her on the 26th — she told us how the seniors’ home pretty much cleared out on the 25th, with only a core staff and a handful of residents. I would imagine some of her fellow residents felt rather melancholy. At least my mom got a couple of phone calls and knew we’d be there the next day.

Well…all that to say this…

I came across something on social media that arrested me in my tracks earlier today. A group of people for whom the holidays means loneliness and isolation, because they can’t go home. The writer posted:

A shout-out and lots of love and good wishes to LGBTQ members who can’t go home for the holidays because of hate and misunderstanding


So…told not to come home, or choosing a self-imposed exile?

In the former case, I can’t imagine saying to one of my kids, “We don’t want you here.” But it happens. I’ll bet it happens many times with Christian parents, too.

In the latter case, I can’t imagine one of my kids feeling so unwanted — feeling so strongly that going home is not an option — that they would prefer to stay away. Sad to say, I’ll bet some of those are Christian homes as well.

But this isn’t an issue in my family. That’s why the social media post shocked me, I guess.

Thankfully, another group in a nearby community is doing the Christmas Dinner this year. It’s actually the town where the first one started, but then the event was split into two locations. While I don’t know the serving team — and we’ve opted to stay home this year — I’m glad there is a place for people to go on the 25th.

Clearly, the above example illustrates we don’t always know why people show up for something like this, and in the case of a younger person who simply isn’t welcome with the rest of their family, they’re not likely to want to share the whole story.

But we can be thankful that people organize events like the Christmas Dinner. If there’s one in your community, contact them and ask if they’re in need of any last-minute food donations or kitchen help. Sometimes it’s just a matter of peeling potatoes the day before and you can still do your own Christmas thing on the day.

It will bless you as much as it blesses them.


A disclaimer: Sadly, among readers here will be those who have no sympathy for this situation at all, and others who may assume that by posting this I have strong gay sympathies. I hope instead you will reconsider the teachings of Jesus in general and in particular the Parable of the Prodigal Son and realize that our only response in a situation like this is love and acceptance. Heck, even countries at war will announce a cease-fire for Christmas Day. How can we not do the same?


  1. Yesterday, I met with an old client, a homosexual with his live in lover. Yet, over the years, I have walked in love and respect towards him…might even invite them for Christmas…thanks for sharing.

    Comment by chrisaomministries — December 22, 2016 @ 11:34 am

  2. I think your comparing a Christmas war-time ceasefire (for a friendly game of pick-up soccer, ca. WWI) and a parent standing pat on their child not being allowed to attend Christmas dinner with their gay lover in tow might be a bit apples and oranges. Not that you mentioned the ‘partner’ being invited as well, but this is very possibly how it would all play out:

    “Mom, I know it’s Christmas, and I want to visit (unspoken: “but I want to do so on MY terms”) but if you want to see me, you have to have my partner here as well”. That might be tough, as a Christian parent’s firm position on sexual immorality might come into play here. The parent must think to him/herself, “Will they kiss at the table? Uh, maybe – can I handle that? Will they want to sleep in the same bed in the spare room? Uhmmm….”.

    The situation may be more complicated than what you are entailing here above. Our heart goes out to both parties, like you, but ultimately, we would side with the parent who says, “No, you can’t come to Christmas dinner if you and your same-sex partner/spouse plan on sleeping in the same bed here” as it would mean sacrificing at-home sexual morality boundaries (spoken or assumed) that are commensurate with the Christian world-view.

    Sometimes, love hurts. Even at Christmas. That being said, if compromises can be made that don’t undermine sexual morality in the home, do whatever it takes and welcome with open arms all who seek Christ’s love.


    Comment by flagrantregard — December 22, 2016 @ 11:46 am

    • While it exists as a possibility, and I am aware of those stories, at no time when I posted this was I envisioning the person wanting to bring a “partner” home for Christmas. Many of these situations occur in situations where all parties concerned live in the same city anyway, so no-one is seeking a place to stay for the holidays.

      I simply took this at face value, and I believe that’s the way to interpret it: One person and one person only who can’t go home for Christmas. While there’s no hard data, I would venture to guess that this is the statistical majority. The person has simply “come out” and is now either alienated or sensing alienation from their family.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 22, 2016 @ 12:12 pm

  3. PS: Further thoughts: We should have included that discord between parents and children living in sin (or outside of the biblical paradigm) applies here as well. How many dating/engaged couples who live together want to come home to Christian parents’ homes for Christmas vacation and expect to find a ‘conjugal bed’ awaiting them. No difference.

    Apologies for not furthering this thought in the above.

    Comment by flagrantregard — December 22, 2016 @ 11:53 am

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