On my way to New Orleans on Monday, I saw a very charming movie on the plane called “4 Christmases.” It was pretty funny actually. For those of you who have to jam in a few holiday visits (which is usually extra stress), you need to check out this movie before you actually go and jump into those visits.

Monday night, we were walking around the French Quarter and went into an art gallery. On the floor of the gallery was a stunted version of Daphne – a cute little black Labrador puppy with one eye swollen shut. I started playing with the dog, and it had a great spirit.

This kid walked over and told us it was his dog. When I asked him where he got it, he told me he ended up rescuing it from a farm in Mississippi where, apparently, he was no longer wanted. The dog was six months old, had a limp on his right leg from being hit by a car, and now had the eye that was swollen shut.

This kid had no money to get any of the dog’s problems fixed. Why? The reason was that this kid was also a throw-away. He was 19 years old and homeless, because his parents kicked him out two years ago. So one lost soul took in another lost soul, and together they formed a beautiful bond.

We looked at Tom (the boy) and James (the dog), and knew we really needed to take care of the James’ eye. Tom told us it would cost $150.00 to treat the dog, and he didn’t have the money.

I immediately said I would take care of it if Tom would meet us at the vet. Tom’s 19 year old eyes looked at us amazed. He said no one had ever done anything like that, and he was unbelievably appreciative.

So I told him to call me the next morning, and gave him my cell phone number. The guy who owned the gallery said that Tom was a good kid. Many homeless kids have some problems with drugs or alcohol, and don’t follow through with things.

When we left, he thanked us again (still in shock). He texted me the next morning (from a cell phone someone let him borrow), and he said he’d be at Dr. Mike’s office at noon. When we arrived there at noon, Tom and James were waiting outside for us still in the same clothes from the night before.

We went into the vet’s office and Dr. Mike told us what he needed to do to fix James. Dr. Mike has seen a lot of street kids and their dogs, and he didn’t want to charge my credit card for the cost of all five treatments needed to fix James. So he only charged me for the first installment.

So we left James in the care of Dr. Mike, and we walked outside with Tom. Of course, the two of us wanted to tell him anything we could to give him hope that his life was worth kicking the drugs and getting off the street. We spent about ten minutes with him before we left.

We then had a discussion in the car, hoping we didn’t lecture him too much. As we saw him walk away down the street, I realized we took care of his dog but didn’t give Tom any money for lunch. So we pulled the car next to him and, shocking him once again, gave him money for lunch.

We spent the rest of the day walking around the city then, just by coincidence, we found ourselves in front of Dr. Mike’s around 4:45 pm. There was Tom walking James toward whatever abandoned house he was going to squat at that night.

It brought tears to our eyes as we watched him walking up the street picking up his friend – maybe the only one he’s had in years. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be kicked out of my house at age 17 and not being wanted.

Tonight and tomorrow all of you are going to be sitting with your families celebrating Christmas. A lot of you are probably apprehensive about spending time with your family. As you’re sitting by the fire tonight exchanging gifts, drinking eggnog (or soy eggnog if you live in California) and telling stories about your childhood, I want all of you to give a Christmas wish to Tom and James.

Also, when all of you go to sleep in your warm bed tonight, I want all of you to give thoughts to Tom and James and everyone like them. Give a thought to all the homeless kids who are not wanted, and to all the homeless adults who are squatting on the streets on park benches or in abandoned homes trying to stay warm on a cold December night.

Tomorrow when you get all your new clothes and your new Christmas toys, instead of shopping on Saturday put together a box of stuff you no longer wear or use, put it in your car and give it to a person in need. If you’ve got nothing to do on Christmas day, make that your Christmas gift to the world. Also, if you’d like to give Tom and James a gift, contact me and I’ll tell you where to send it.

The real meaning of Christmas is to give to those in need. I’d love for all of you to share your stores of how you gave to someone in need this Christmas.