[Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Day 12…Volunteer Work)
I’ll say it. I love the holiday season. I love the paper snowflakes, getting Christmas cards in my mailbox, finding presents for me under the tree. But, Christmas is a time for thinking about others. While we receive, we should always try to do something for those who won’t have much for Christmas.
When I was in elementary school, there was a rest home about two blocks away. Each December we began making little gifts for the residents of that rest home. I can’t remember what they were. We were in 5th and 6th grade, so one can only guess what it might have been.
Our teacher, Miss Bos, would have us practice carols. We’d learn several songs, mostly likely very badly.
Then, the last week before Winter Break, we’d pack up our gifts and walk up the hill to the rest home. The residents would be assembled for our “concert” (and I’m using that term loosely). We’d sing all the songs we memorized. Then, we’d hand out our handmade gifts. Usually, we got a candy cane in return. After we were done, we’d walk down the hill back to school.
When I was an in my 30s, my Grandmother lived in a rest home that had a holiday party each December. They often asked for a donated gift so that each resident could have something to open for Christmas.
Each year, I’d go to one of the dollar stores, pilfer things I’d bought through the year, and hit up family for things. I’d wrap each one up in festive paper. Then, my Dad and I would cart two to three bags filled with gifts to the rest home. For some reason this rankled my Grandma, so we’d have to hurry up and the deliver the gifts to the office before she saw us.
This year, I got to help my sister with her project. She’s a floral designer by trade. She decided to make over a thousand corsages and boutonnieres for residents of local rest homes. She start them months ago. Then, a couple of weeks ago, she needed help putting pins in them and packaging them in plastic bags. My Mom and I were glad to help. We must have packaged about 600 of them.
Last week, my sister and Mom set off for rest homes. They were to drop them off at five local places. In each, the staff was very happy to receive the donation. It may not seem like much. But, these poinsettia corsages will bring a little bit of cheer to someone’s holiday season.
So, when the holidays approach, as I’m having my own fun, I try to do a little something for someone else. The spirit of the season is sharing after all.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com