Welcome back to Go Forth and Nerd this is Jesse Bray also know as Mr. Bray and I'm your resident nerd. Today is a particularly special episode because it's both very personal to me and one that I think many may benefit to hear.
I'd like to share strangely one the happiest holiday stories I've ever had. The title of this story is:
A Welfare Christmas 🎄
For those that are long time listeners they know that I've been no stranger to hard times: both as an adult and as a child I experienced homelessness.
Before I met Katie I was the biggest bah humbug Scrooge you'd meet during this time of year. I was cynical, jaded. I felt the season was just a commercialized parody outlining an array of pagan symbols. As little to do with the real meaning of Christmas as the historical Saint Patrick was about drinking green beer. I was no fun to be around during Christmas to say the least. I had a chip on my shoulder and that chip was heavy.
However, it wasn't heavy without cause. You see as I mentioned earlier when you grow up poor a holiday celebrating material wealth, warmth and comforts just rubs you the wrong way. When your mentally ill mother sporadically decides that she's allergic to pine trees so we staple and tape the shape of a Christmas tree on the living room wall hopefully expecting Santa to know where to place the gifts your heart breaks when you awake to the disappointment or the cold replies of your mother saying you were brats so you didn't get what you asked for. Luckily we were often fortunate to receive gifts in the mail from our grandparents or we would try to visit them. This saved our mother from having to deal with all the holiday hassles as she saw it.
Yet Christmas 1994 we were living some 3500+ miles away from all our family and they had little to no idea that we were living in a small town outside Portland, Maine. My mother was in a rare form she wanted to go caroling and chum it up with volunteers at the shelter- it was her normal routine to appear put together in front of religious folks. That Christmas we had moved out of the shelter into a special housing provided for homeless families. The program provided us with food and multiple organizations came by with wishlists asking us what we would like for Christmas. Not expecting anything I dreamed out loud on the pages a simple request. Drawing and arts supplies. That Christmas morning I awoke to the most magical thing I could possibly imagine! There was a feast fit for kings and the most presents I had ever seen! I had easily got 10 to 20 times more gifts than I had ever received in entire my life! Gift after gift after gift I was overwhelmed! The simple request for drawing and art supplies was like a craft store had mistakenly sent their inventory shipment wrapped them in my name and dropped it off for me. Additionally I hadn't seen so much food in my life. The generosity of spirit of all the local churches and organizations was like a flood. Years later that sweet memory was buried by the sting of following Christmases however my cynicism melted away during mine and Katie's first Christmas. She insisted on us getting a tree, she baked some cookies and we sat to watch a muppets Christmas Carol. As the credits rolled I walked into our kitchen with tears in my eyes and said to Katie "how dare you! How dare you make me love Christmas".
I know for many this is a tough time and for many years it was for me. However looking back it was the generosity of spirit that this season inspires that gave me a feeling I was loved by complete strangers and it was "A Welfare Christmas" that made me believe in the hope to dream. And finally it was the warmth of my wife's cookies and a singing frog that made me learn what it means to say Merry Christmas. 🎄
Thank you all so much for listening I wish you all health and love and a happy holidays please remember to Go Forth & Nerd!
Music is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod
Bethlehem - Christmas by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)