(I'm apologizing for length right now, I tried to keep it short. But I'm being selfish and this post is important to me - for my memory - and so I didn't want to omit any details, but it took quite a bit of explanation. Oh and for the cheese...it gets a little cheesy :)).
In the true spirit of the creation of this blog, I'm simply posting to document. It's mostly for myself, so I can come back here years from now and remember something. It wasn't your typical monumental day, so I worry it might get lost in the many major moments that take up the majority of space in my memory. Or even worse, it could get lost among the things I'd rather not have in there, like work stuff, that takes up space whether I want it to or not. So it's not a post necessarily for your enjoyment, although I suppose it is a sort of weekend update.
Because it's a letter to myself, I won't explain this part in the letter, but will preface it first. The first weekend in December is rather special to me. For the last 10 years or so, I have participated in Advent Adventure. It's through the church I went to growing up. A wonderfully special woman, who we call Schneider, has coordinated this event for the last 14 years. I've been going since I was a sophomore in high school, and have been almost every year since (save a few years in college where I couldn't get home). I almost hate to explain it here because it's impossible to put into words and when the logistics are explained, it sounds much less magical than it really is, but I'll do my best.
Schneider comes up with crafts, 5 or 6. Nothing too complicated, just little crafts for all ages. Their intent is what's special, they're made to be gifts. Given to family, friends, teachers, etc. Then, on the first Saturday in December, we gather a group of high school kids from our church. A group of, for the most part, well off, privileged white kids, from way out in the burbs. Kids who have known Christmas and presents and Santa for as far back as they can remember.
We take this group down to a church in the very innermost part of the city. A church that is small and run down. A church full of kids who couldn't be more different from them. Kids who range in age from one year to 18 years. They're matched up. And together, they make these crafts. They introduce someone so different from them to things like glitter, wrapping paper, even ornaments for a tree. They make the crafts, wrap them as gifts, and for this Christmas, they have things to give to their families on the 25th.
I could go into a number of different stories from my years of doing this event. Stories of kids wanting to wrap up cookies because they've never had them. Not knowing what a Christmas tree is. Only taking one cookie when they're offered as many as they want because it's "all they need." Needing help understanding what wrapping paper is because they've never received a gift that was wrapped in paper.
But that's not the point I want to make, the point is, that for two hours on that first Saturday of December every single year, a group of total opposites comes together. And I swear to all things holy, for those two hours, there isn't race or class or money. There's a group of people sharing things they have. And not a single person leaves that room without feeling richer, wiser, and fulfilled. It kicks off my Christmas season and I couldn't think of anything better to serve as the start of my season, my reminder of what it all means.
So that's Advent Adventure.
As I said, I've done this many years before. Sometimes with mom. Sometimes with mom and my brother. One year I even got to bring Grandma. But this year I brought Christian. It's hard to explain exactly what the event is to someone so I knew he didn't really know what to expect. However, the man is built to give. Caring is in his very being, so I wasn't worried about it. As the day got closer I got more and more excited. After over 2 years together he was finally able to come with me and I felt like I was getting to share something so special to me and my Christmas season with him.
The event was just like every other year. More kids this year, more than we've ever seen, but the same magic, the same fulfillment. Except this time there was just a little more love for me. I got to look over and see the man I love more than I ever thought I could being so incredibly wonderful with these kids. Sneaking little glances as we crafted away. I had adults who have known me since I was a kid, and who's opinion means so much to me, come up and tell me how wonderful he was. How impressed they were. How happy they were to see me with him.
At the end Schneider thanked us, as she always does. She cried, as she always does. I cried. We got in the car to drive off and we cried. You can't help it. When you leave there, you feel moved, changed, better.
The rest of the day was pretty usual. We stopped and saw his Grandma, got some lunch. But it was just all more special because of how we spent our morning. Together, giving. Kicking off our Christmas season.
Felt (and continue to feel) pretty damn blessed.