Christmas Eve - It's disgusting how much I love him.
It was amazing and we were spoiled. I appreciated it this year more than ever before, for several reasons. Sure it was in the forefront of my mind that next year will be hard while Zack is in Bahrain, even if I do get to go there. I appreciated spending time with my family.
But this year I also remembered to appreciate being in a warm house, with an obscene amount of food, and more than enough presents to go around.
The day before Christmas Eve Zack and I went with several other members of my family to volunteer for the Christmas party at a Christian daycare for the children of the working poor. It was so humbling and I want to take a moment to briefly share a little of my experience.
I have to stop quick and give a shout out here to my Aunt Mary who made a lot of things happen for these kids this year and several previous years and also asked Zack and I to come this year. And another big shout out to my Uncle Rod, who is the nicest, coolest, sweetest man alive and has played Santa to the 100+ screaming kids for the past several years like a champ. As well as Stacy who braved a fear of the "just bombed for bugs" building and sweated her way through the day, and who raised Cody and Zach (who also came) who are just about the coolest kids I've ever met and who are always, always willing to help someone out. And of course, to my Zack, who I saw in a different light helping little kids, even if he did gag at the smell of a freshly soiled diaper on the baby floor.
I have unbelievably generous and kind family members. Back to what I was saying...
I have never "went without" as they say. I was blessed with amazing parents who loved me and were blessed with jobs that allowed them to provide more than enough for my brother and I. They worked hard, and often, and they were still the best parents anyone could have asked for. (Don't tell them I said that).
I wont go in to how many cars they've bought my brother and I, how many trips they've paid for, what bills they still pay... They're amazing. I've always known this and appreciated them.
Then I went to Precious Memories...
I knew before I got there that there were a lot of kids and that most of them only got the presents they would be getting at this party. When we walked in to the basement to meet Angy (who is a Saint, this place is ran by Saints) we were surrounded by over 100 full trash bags of donated gifts. I was overwhelmed. We helped sort them and asked her which bag went to which kid, and which kid went to which pile, indicating the floor they were on in the building, the fact that she not only remembered each kids name but their age and which floor they were on was beyond my comprehension.
After all of the sorting was finished while my uncle got all Santa'd up, we went to talk to the kiddies. The afore mentioned Saints talked to the kids about what was going to happen and they sang songs and talked about the Christmas story and how there was no room at the inn. It was very sweet to see all of the kids so anxious.
Then came Santa, and the glee from the kids made me so happy, and so sad. One at a time they each got a chance to sit on Santa's lap and get a picture and their stocking filled with candy, then they got their (usually bigger than them) bag of presents.
It was a lot more emotional for me than I had intended.
It's emotional for me now, because I'm a huge baby.
One of the kids was having a conversation with one of the ladies that works there. He asked "Will there be popcorn of chips at the party?" She told him there would be popcorn AND chips, and pudding cups, and sandwiches, and juice, and all sorts of other food to eat for lunch afterwards. The little boy literally squealed.
There were kids who's parents came and wouldn't let them open their gifts so that they had something to open Christmas morning. There were kids who screamed and got excited for underwear and socks. There were kids who drug their trashbags through the line to get lunch with them after opening because they didn't want the gifts out of their site. They were so proud of their stuff. They were so dang cute. There were babies there who were days old all the way to school age kids, and none forgotten. It rocked.
I can't wait to go back.
The moral of my story is, I appreciate that I will probably never have to wonder where my next meal will come from. I appreciate that I never did have to wonder. I have a whole new appreciation for new socks and underwear, and all of the other presents I would have hated as a kid. My family is blessed. And no matter what happens, or what job I start working and what my hours are, I will always make time to give back. Because I'm spoiled. And Blessed.
Going there was definitely worth the cold I got almost immediately after leaving.
Sigh, so, who's coming with me?