Each day I find myself experiencing series of moments that serve to remind me of that which is most important. Today was no different.

One man spoke intently to me about the sorrow that follows him around, a sorrow rooted in not sharing in enough relationships where he can be entirely himself; where he isn’t expected to foot the bill (even though he has very little); where he can give and receive. He kept saying, “all I want is to have friendships that are founded on simple things, like where we can just talk, seek to understand one another, wish one another peace and it is…enough. One of the only places I have these kind of friendships is here”.

Another long time friend finally let me and one of my outreach partners into his “pad”- the rather large, one bedroom apartment that he recently got into. It is VERY sparsely furnished, a little worn and dirty, and HIS. This friend is struggling with multiple health issues which range from cancer to substance addiction. He has little, but now is warm at night. When asked what else he needs, his reply was, “a plant, one that can help filter the air and warm up the place”.

I sat beside a man at the drop-in who carries a bottle of sherry in his sleeve at all times. Some days he consumes 9 of them. He told me that all he wants for Christmas is to drink egg nog instead of booze.

Every Monday is the same: I get a hug from a friend who wants nothing else except a hug back; I am handed a coffee, made just the way I like it, from one of my crotchety-est friends because that’s his self-declared role; a friend plays the real piano in the drop-in for 20 minutes and can’t shake his smile.

As I consider that we are already in December and staring down Christmas, I am struck by how I long to relish in these moments, these gifts. On the surface they might seem so simple, but are actually deeply revealing. We fundamentally need to be in relationships and have safe places to be ourselves. To find this is a greater gift than anything that comes in a box. Though I suspect that some of the most precious Christmas gifts I give this year are going to be a single potted plant and a carton of egg nog, sans the spirits.

I plan to put big bows on each.

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