"I REMEMBER a time when streets and department stores were filled with the sounds of Christmas carols and songs." Photographer:Tracey Adams/African News Agency(ANA)
I REMEMBER a time when streets and department stores were filled with the sounds of Christmas carols and songs.

Total strangers wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

This year, even the song Little Drummer Boy by Boney M was missing in action.

The inner-city shop decorations were almost nonexistent. I guess many people just don't have enough energy to be jolly.

I overheard a conversation in which a woman said the airline she works for didn't pay its staff.

She had no idea when she would receive her pay, and her plans with the kids were all messed up.

Children have childlike expectations, with no idea how financially stressed some heads of households are. The disappointment on their faces after hearing they aren't receiving the gift they so badly wanted must be heartbreaking to parents.

Then there are those who just have to keep up with the Joneses - come what may.

All these issues I have mentioned are really not what Christmas is about.

Christmas should be a celebration of the birth of the Messiah.

This time should be celebrated in goodwill towards each other, to forgive one another. A time to reunite as families to heal and restore relationships - unconditionally.

The birth of Jesus symbolises love, compassion, hope and the promise of life after death. Like the story of the prodigal son

Gifts, decorations, even that Little Drummer Boy song, in the end, are irrelevant.

It's about bringing humanity back home. Above all, it's about love for one another. I keep a low profile over this time.

During the year I interact with people, but over the festive season I end up alone. They have time with family and friends.

There are those who invite me for lunch, but I feel like the odd one out, so I graciously decline.

Going to church is another issue. Certain pastors zoom in on us gay people, and I think that, if they could, they would have us burnt alive in full public view.

Many pastors these days are spreading hate speech. One gets stressed out about it.

I hate the fact that I have no family or that special one in my life to celebrate it with.

You try and book a table for one to enjoy Christmas lunch.

Christmas makes me feel like a social failure.

I'll never be part of the traditional spirit of Christmas. I isolate myself. But what I really need to do is to go out there and meet, interact and be more social with like-minded individuals.

I guess at 49 there should be a possibility of finding that special one.

Lord knows there were those who wanted to spend time with me, get to know me, but I was oblivious to it all.

Homeless people at this time of the year are wearing a mask in the shape of a big smile. But behind it all is a sense of sadness, longing for time with relatives and loved ones.

How do you reconnect, even just for a day?

* Danny Oosthuizen is the #TheDignityProject ambassador. In his weekly daily column for the Cape Argus, he tackles the struggles homeless people face. Connect with Danny on Facebook and on Twitter @masekind3213 or via email: [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus