December 28, 2012

My Christmas

I'd love to share all the wonderful and thoughtful gifts I received on Christmas with you. But instead, I wanted to share something a little more special and dear to my heart. Every year, during the winter months, I'm a lucky little elf that gets to work on a very big project for Santa. For the past few years, I've invested every bit of my holiday spirit in a huge Christmas celebration at my school.

I'm always a little torn when I think about it. Sometimes I feel like my family gets a bit neglected around the holidays because I'm so busy with this project. I hope they don't think I'm a Scrooge or a Grinch :) But words cannot describe the incredible experience. And if you did, you would completely understand why I put aside my "family Christmas" for this. Telling you that it is "huge" is an understatement. It is so huge that it's very difficult for me to compartmentalize "school Christmas" from "family Christmas," which explains why I often leave all the planning and shopping and other holiday happenings for my family to be left after the school events are over and done with... usually not until after the 20th of December... Thankfully, I think my family understands where I put my efforts and holiday spirit towards. Today, I'd like to share that with you...

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of photos. Well, really, I don't have ANY photos. So you'll have to use your imagination :) There are MANY MANY organizations that help to put this project into action and many of them do it for the pure joy of bringing Christmas to the hearts of these little people. They care not to have their names mentioned and definitely don't want to be memorialized by big glossy photos plastered all over the internet or newspapers for that matter. And of course, for respect of the families we chose to invite, anonymity is extremely important. So, no, there are no photos... But I'll throw in some internet photos to help your imagination realize the spectacularness of this event. (Yes, I just made up that word - I'm telling you, words cannot describe this!).

We usually invite about 20 families from our school who could use a little help celebrating Christmas. It comes out to be about 100 people, but we try our best to keep it pretty intimate.When the families arrive, they have the opportunity to enter some fun raffles (including things like pogo sticks, Barbie sets, Legos, Jingle and Bell, the interactive book and dolls, a family movie night kit, board games, and more!) All of these items are brand new and donated to us by various individuals, families, and organizations.

After a welcome and introduction from our principal, the children are encouraged to step outside for a minute. Santa rides in on his sleigh pulled by the local rescue squad. It is such a sight to see! And it is so neat watching the children. Their jaws drop and they get giddy with excitement!

Our gym is decorated beautifully with an electric fireplace, a beautiful Santa chair, and a Christmas tree. Santa's elves help to distribute presents to every child, and each gets to climb up on his lap. A professional photographer takes a photo keepsake. 
We also have a huge train set up in the Santa room for children to view while they wait for Santa. It is massive and mesmerizing!

The children get to go to the craft room and make a special frame for their photo with Santa. They also can make thank you cards and watch holiday movies. It's like free babysitting for a half hour while the parents get to do some Christmas "shopping" in our library, which is transformed into a toy room with tons of new and used toys, books, stuffed animals and games. Each family also receives wrapping paper, tags, bows, and tape so they can wrap up their goodies once they go home. We also have a clothing room, brought in from a local church, where the parents can select gently used outfits and coats.
The best part of the night may be dinner... A local chef and some culinary students from a nearby high school cook an incredible Christmas feast. It is so adorable to watch these little kiddos pile their plates with food!

And don't forget dessert! That's when we announce the winners of all those awesome raffles from the beginning of the night! We also give away some prizes for the parents too, like pre-paid cell phones and grocery store gift cards.

Then Santa has another little chat with all the kiddos. A local women's organization gets together every year to purchase gifts for all of our special mothers (and single fathers) and Santa talks to the children about the spirit of giving and explains to the children that these gifts were purchased on their behalf. The kids deliver the presents and of course that's when we see our mothers tear up a bit! :)

At the end of the night, each family receives a bag filled with household supplies and toiletries. All of the children receive new gloves and the school gives them a special board game that we picked out for each family. In past years we have also given each child a new pillow and blanket. Imagine a room filled with nearly a hundred pillows... Now imagine the car that transported all those pillows to us... Haha! Um, that's why we don't do it anymore :)

It really is quite a spectacular evening, which is why I had to at least attempt to share it with you! Hope your Christmas was just as wonderful! :)


  1. Nina...this sounds like a massive project! My heart is so touched by your generous and giving demonstrates the very spirit of Christmas..God bless you, my dear!

  2. This is surely God's Blessing and Gift to you. The ability to organize a wonderous and giving event on behalf of underprivilaged children. Thank you for sharing the deetails of this great and unselfish event. I was touched and inspired to see what can be done in my own neighborhood. Thank you so much.
    Cheryl McAskill

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful event. As an ex-classroom teacher of underprivileged children, I can appreciate how happy you have made those families over the years. These stories depict the true meaning of Christmas. God Bless all of you that put this together!

  4. I really enjoyed your heartwarming story, and I'm so glad you shared it. I can only imagine how wonderful it felt to see so many happy families going home that evening with bundles and smiles, and knowing every one of them had a joyful Christmas! Blessings to you and all those involved!

  5. Kudos to you Kiddo! Another successful Christmas in Marbury!