Homeless in Vancouver: I'm open on Christmas even if nothing else is

For many “homed” people—and homeless—Christmas retains its deeply religious meaning: marking the birth of Jesus, as Easter marks his death and resurrection.

For people living on the streets, Christmas also marks the annual death and resurrection of their city and all its services—both public and private—libraries and restaurants.

Almost everything shuts down on December 25—actually doors close early on the evening of the 24th.

The city shows a slight pulse on the 26th and consciousness returns on the 27th. But the Body Civic doesn’t fully come back to life until January 2.

Christmas itself is very much a celebration behind closed doors with friends and family. If you’re homeless, living out-of-doors, then this is the one holiday that really leaves you out in the cold because Christmas Day is the one day of the entire year when city life truly takes a back seat to home life.

To a person living on the street, the city is home.

Christmas for them is a little like when the power goes out in someone’s home or apartment. And the city is also, very often, a homeless person’s home-based business.

Christmas and Boxing Day are the two days a year when a homeless person can’t earn money from collecting bottles, because all the bottle depots are closed. There aren’t a lot of free meals Christmas Day. And never mind if a homeless person has some money put aside, there aren’t a lot of restaurants open. 

Umm… So what looks good at the 24-hour convenience store?

Basically for a few days over the impending Christmas holidays, a homeless person has to live off their hump, and even if things have been lean and they don’t have much surplus, we can all take heart from the fact that it’s virtually impossible to starve to death in two days.

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