Photo Credit: Inc Magazine

Something bizarre happened one Saturday, a few years ago, while I was at the barbershop. But before I tell you about that, let me provide a little context: One of the things I love about Christmas is the fact that it brings families together.

Not just the nuclear family, but uncles, aunts, cousins, people who you don’t get to see so much throughout the year. For me, this is my favourite thing about the holidays, but it also reminds me of what is often wrong with Christmas.

Many of these cousins who don’t even remember your name, let alone your phone number from January to November, suddenly crown themselves your favourite relatives and turn up for Christmas with a long list of needs they think you must help them address in the coming year. 

I guess it just fascinates me that some people are always in need of help. That just seems to be their eternal role in life, which means my eternal role is to help them. Now, I don’t mind doing this whenever I can, but I just wish they wouldn’t become so dependent on it. I wish they would take my help and use it to become better, you know…

Anyway, that was how I felt about relatives seeking my help, and I confess, I didn’t even realise how narrow-minded that opinion was, until that Saturday.

As I said, we were at the barbershop. Fiifi was having his hair cut, and he said he was thirsty, so I popped out to get him some water from the next shop. First, I ducked my head into the car to get some change. When I straightened up, there was a man standing behind me. 

He actually gave me a bit of a shock to begin with, because his clothes were torn, and his face was rather dirty. His hair was all matted, and judging from his pungent stench, I suspected even the lice in his hair would be begging for him to have a shower at this point, but I smiled and said hello. He looked at me for several seconds, and then he said, in perfect English with what sounded like a British accent: “Nice car”.

“Thanks”, I said, taken aback. He then proceeded to stare at me calmly, while I tried to figure out the polite thing to do about this increasingly bizarre encounter. After what felt like a full minute, I cleared my throat nervously, and asked in English, “Er… do you need help?”

I’ll never forget his answer as long as I live: he just gave me a big grin, flashing a mouthful of brilliant white teeth, and said, “don’t we all?”

Now, it was my turn to stare at him for ages. When I regained my composure, I just gave him all the change I had in my hands and said, “I hope this helps”.

He smiled again, and said, “Merry Christmas”. Then he turned on his heels and walked off.

My people, I just stood there, thinking about what he had just said. Ei. “Don’t we all”, paa…

But of course, we all need help. No matter who you are, what you do, or where you are in life, there’s one fact that makes us all equal – the fact that we all need help from someone. In this world, the attitude with which we choose to help, or not to help others, is the exact attitude with which we will be met when we ask for help.

And if there is one fact you can bank on, it’s the fact that you WILL ask someone for help at some point. Even if it’s just for directions when you are lost.

For a long time, I just stood there staring after this scruffy little man, wondering whether he was an Angel, sent to give me this message, just for Christmas. I still don’t know, but I felt I needed to share this with all of you today, just in case this insight is meant for somebody out there too. So there you go – your message for this morning – we all need help, so let’s act accordingly.

My name is Kojo Yankson. How can I help?


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