On a cold winter night not long ago, a young family seeking to feel the real joy of the Christmas season volunteered to serve dinner in a homeless shelter. At first, some of the younger children were a bit frightened by the sights, smells, and sounds of the inner-city shelter. They had never been so close to such distress before. But, in time, a little Christmas miracle took place.
As the family served the hot meal, they began to interact with the homeless residents. They exchanged smiles, laughter, and small talk. Then the singing started. No one really remembers who began to sing first—perhaps one of the residents or one of the children—but before long, everyone was singing Christmas carols. The room filled with the sweet spirit of Christmas. It became like a great party, almost a family reunion. They were no longer strangers but brothers and sisters, children of the same God. It was powerful, personal, and poignant—a night never to be forgotten.
In Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Scrooge's nephew Fred describes Christmas as "a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people [around] them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."
No heavenly angels sang that night at the shelter at least, not in the literal sense but heaven came closer to everyone there.
As the evening ended and the family stepped back into the cold night, they each felt the joy and meaning of Christmas more deeply.
The stars shone a little brighter, hearts had opened freely, and they all felt a little closer to a few of their fellow passengers on the journey of life.