Huddling together during cold times for comfort, support and love is a step in the right direction. When people tell stories about hard times, they recall soup bowls and warming one room in the house, probably the kitchen, and gathering to tell stories and comfort each other.

They also talk about communal things.  For example soup, rice or pasta is something you can stretch to feed many.

In some of the Latin countries people kid each other when someone arrives, saying “ Pour more water in the soup! We have company!”  Many times it is not a joke.

Lately in the face of the adversity that many people are experiencing, I have started to notice more friendship and solidarity.

I have heard of families who have welcomed one or more families to temporarily live with them while they weather the bad economic times.  They have stretched their resources to the maximum and in doing so they are affirming life and love.

For the first time in decades we are given the opportunity to truly celebrate the Christmas spirit, sharing and exchanging gifts of mutuality, and caring for each other in the time of need.

The Bible story narrates the hardship of a family who could only find shelter at a manger. Nevertheless love was incarnated in the midst of poverty not in a palace.

Nowadays we are confronted by the needs of people that are without a job, food, income, or shelter.  It is a time for Christians and citizens of the world to rise to the occasion and share what each one has.

We can face current times with optimism knowing that human beings are capable of being generous and courageous.  Even more we can rescue our own humanity and keep the lesson alive, so that the new economy does not turn us once more into clients and consumers that only think to help themselves, ignoring the needs of others.

When we think of soup, we think of community.  When we think of warmth we think of closeness. 

Maybe from now on the neighbor will not look so apart, and there will be time to share talk and joke.  Maybe we will learn to build things together and share what we have.

Maybe we can learn to live without so many things that accumulate and rot in our houses.  We could have just one TV set for household and more people in each house. People from different ages could share chores and contribute to a conversation and after a TV program ends we can shut it off and turn to each other to explore and comment on our thoughts.

We face endless possibilities for finding new ways to relate and love one another. 

We have the opportunity to cry and lament what we do not have, or we have the opportunity to find new and more creative ways to live.

This advent is a real open door to count our blessings and look at the future with serenity and excitement.