By Grant Fischer

I was worried, as I approached the Harvest Project building in North Vancouver. Would there be any bread or sweet buns left in the pick-up areas? Single moms and others would have picked over the food much earlier, my bad for not arriving sooner.

The snowy slush stuck to my shoes and pants, further dampening my low spirits.

I entered, grabbed a warm thin coffee, and sat at a table. It quickly became clear to me that people sitting around the table weren’t too excited about the approaching festive season.

This is a lonely time for us. Family and friends split-up, separated through poverty and circumstance. So much shame and guilt. Deep feelings of not being good enough. We try to comfort each other. The margins are our territory. It’s a terrible burden under the load, real or imagined.

John, a volunteer, calls me over to chat. I know he cares, but I’ve come to believe that I am too far gone, destined to a life of despair.

“Grant,” he asks, “what do you want for Christmas?”  What do I deserve is the thought in my head.

“John, I need a warm winter coat and pants. Stuff I can work outside with.” Somehow I cling to the idea I might be useful yet.

“Well,” says John, “You’ll need boots too.”

Later in the day, as I returned to my single-room flat downtown, I dare not consider any good fortune.

A few weeks pass when John calls to me from across the street, and asks if he might visit me. We agree to meet. He will be my first visitor.

Later, John knocks on my door and enters, carrying an enormous hamper of food and wrapped boxes.

To think that someone has taken time to buy me new clothes (my wish) is really overwhelming. Here is someone taking time out of their life for me asking for nothing in return. What a gift. What a lesson for me!

My world opened up in the moment. I am reminded that I matter and that I also have something to give, my gratitude, and so much more.

In gratitude, I say thank you! Keep the FAITH. Just like me, you deserve a Merry Christmas.

Grant Fischer currently lives in Calgary, and volunteers at the DI.