Today was a cold crisp day in the Northwest, the rain had finally subsided and I could see a spot of blue sky over downtown Seattle. This was my opportunity to see downtown dressed up for the holiday’s before I leave town.
It wasn’t snowing but there was a definate chill in the air. As I walked down the street, people were bundled up in big winter coats; some wore hats and gloves and most were lugging holiday packages. The major department stores are geared up for the Holiday Parade scheduled to hit the streets of downtown Seattle this Friday. All the large picture windows are decorated and lights twinke brightly for as far as the eye can see.
Beyond the beautifully decorated windows and the twinkely lights, I saw a community struggeling to survive. I wasn’t prepared to see large numbers of homeless people standing on street corners holding signs begging people to give. Their eyes spoke volumes of their pain and lonliness. For them, I imagine Christmas is just another day. There will be no tree or presents to buy, no homes to decorate or friends to entertain. I turned the corner and came face to face with a man sitting in a wheel chair. He had no coat just a shirit and torn thin blanket across his lap, his clothes were worn, his hair in tangels. He just held a tin can. No sign. Looking at him said it all. As I walked past him, I turned and looked into his tired crystal blue eyes. Where did he go at night I wondered? Did he have food for tonight? How did his life go so wrong that he ended up on the streets begging for change?
I walked another block and suddenly I realized I had lost my interest in looking in store windows for the beauty of Christmas. 2009 has not been a good year for America. The economy appears to have affected everyone, except maybe the man pulling out of the parking lot of the Rainer Club this afternoon in his new shiny red Porsche.
I walked back to my car and drove home. Coming across the bridge over Lake Washington, I looked south to see Mt. Rainer in all her glory. She was covered in snow surrounded in a light pink hue standing proudly as a symbol of the incredible beauty of this region. The vision was magestic and I began to give thanks for all the positive aspects of my life.
I am thankful I can get in a nice warm car and drive home from the streets of downtown and know that I have a beautiful place to sleep tonight. I am thankful I have food to eat and warm clothes to wear. I am thankful I overcame cancer and had family and friends to take care of me when I was sick. I am thankful God has blessed me with many gifts that give me the ability to earn a living - even during this difficult economy. I am thankful life has not left me jaded and bitter and that I have the capacity to have compassion for others less fortunate. I am thankful I have family and friends who love and support me through the good times and the bad.
This Thanksgiving don’t overlook what you are thankful for.