Yesterday, a friend proudly showed me the Christmas cards to benefit our local homeless shelter. The front featured a somewhat haphazard drawing of a decorated tree and a glowing hearth on a solid white background. "Haphazard," because there were an array of seemingly unrelated items in the foreground of the drawing. She proudly turned over the package of cards to show the sticker on the back proclaiming that the cards were drawn by "Jennifer, age 14" who lives at The Samaritan Inn with her mother and two brothers. Our friend stated that the name was a pseudonym for her daughter whose drawing was selected to grace this year's Christmas card.
If sending or receiving these particular cards, "Jennifer" took special care to draw the orange tabby cat on the bottom left of the card. While the family had other pets, this particular cat was lost in the shuffle of their lives. The family lives at the inn for this moment, but they have not forgotten the sweetness of their own home. They have not lost the hope of regaining a place of their own, either. Today's exchange, and the cards benefiting the inn provide a poignant reminder that not everyone will be home for the holidays this year. And that those experiencing homelessness are not faceless strangers.