One December, my oldest son informed us that he would be getting up early on Christmas morning to serve breakfast to homeless people at the nearby shelter. We are a good Christian family, but we never before had that tradition. Christmas had been always the same: go to Mass on Christmas Eve, get up early, open presents, and reflect briefly on the fact that the day was a birthday celebration for Jesus. Then I would run off to my job back at the church. But that year, my son threw a wrench into the plan.
I can’t say his siblings were too happy at first. When they woke up, he would be gone. If it were not bad enough that our family wasn’t together at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, they would have to wait to open presents until his return. To them, it didn’t seem like this was about serving the poor at all … it was about my son making Christmas morning all about him!
I couldn’t be mad at my other children for feeling the way they did. It was a natural human response. When our routine is disrupted, we feel uneasy. When our expectations are not met, we feel a little cheated. When others stand in our way of happiness, even if they just delay it for a bit, we feel impatient. Of course, he went to the soup kitchen, and when he returned, everything unfolded as it usually does. And we were all proud of him.
—Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS