Or we could call this "How M-Cat found her Christmas Spirit of 2010"
In Salt Lake City, we have a yearly benefit called Festival of Tree's. The money it raises goes to Primary Children's Medical Center. This was it's 40th year anniversary.
My friend the Gypsy Grandma has been involved for as long as I have known her (22 years?). Some years I have had time to serve on her committee and some years I have missed it altogether, but we have made a real point the last several to make sure and be a part of it, if all we can do is attend one night.
Families or business's create trees that are then auctioned off to the highest bidder. Every single thing is donated. From the trees, decorations, wreaths, gingerbread houses, gift shop items, Santa's corner.......EVERYTHING.
The trees usually have a theme surrounding them and often involve more than just a tree. Most of them are decorated in honor of a child who has passed away, or is sick and spending time at PCMC. Many are done in honor of adults who has passed or are fighting enormous battles of some kind. Whatever reason, most of the trees have significant meaning behind them and some very touching stories. It's hard to not come away feeling blessed and full of good feelings for others.
In fact, every year I have been involved in some way, I hear a story or meet someone that deeply touches me and I always remember the Spirit that I feel when I remember that while this is a joyous time of season - it is also a very hard one for so many others.
One year, I was working the gift shop and it was early, so not too busy. A lady working was with me and we started some small talk. Before I knew it, she was tearing up and sharing why she was working. Within the previous 3 months she had lost her young daughter to a freak bicycle accident. She was devastated and her friend that was on the FOT board suggested she get involved as a way to heal. We were perfect strangers, but all of a sudden sharing a very special moment as she talked about her daughter, the accident and how she was coping. I have never forgotten her. I remember distinctly having the thought: "There, for but the grace of God, go I. Life can change in an instant and can never be taken for granted. She inspired me with her story of dragging herself out of her bed, putting on a skirt and coming to the expo to volunteer. I vowed I would be a more grateful mother.
Another year, our bonco group was there at the end of the last night breaking everything down and boxing them to get the trees delivered to the people or business's that bought them. It was about midnight and there was so much work to be done. I was tired. You know how midnight and I are so rarely acquainted.
As I helped, I watched everyone else around me work. Some of the ladies had been there from open to close the ENTIRE 4 days of the festival. They work non-stop. And many of them would get just a few hours of sleep before they were up and driving a truck finding the addresses of where each tree belonged. I was in pure awe of their efforts and energy. Our group had shown up at about 10:30 and we had strong men and boys lifting and carrying, while these women were right alongside them. Why do they do this?
The children. The babies, the kids, the small, precious souls that need medical help. That through no fault of their own end up in the hospital and need care. I came away grateful for my own children's relatively good health and figured I would need to continue to support this great cause if for no other reason than to build up some good karma! I vowed I would work harder to help others.
One year, I was there on decoration day. I was sitting at a table selling pins and Festival vests. Right in front of me was a family putting together their tree. Now, keep in mind, you can't just put up an artificial tree. It has to be mounted on a pole and every decoration wired down. It's a lot of work. It was clear that the people involved were a family doing it on behalf of someone special as I sometimes caught tears as they worked. I watched for several hours and marked their progress, knowing that they had a lot more to do to make their tree just the way they had pictured it. Just the way, they had dreamed it would be in honor of whom they were doing it for. I vowed I would appreciate the hard work of the trees and decorations much more.
This year there were several trees that had been done by friends and family that I wanted to be sure and see. Splenda met Sissy and I and off we went.
where they have all things fun for kids. Crafts, balloons, snacks, Santa, dancing shows. A kid's delight. Even a small gift shop that the kids can buy their own teachers and friends gifts.
Then aisle Q to find three that I knew were there.
Our friends John and Donna had their business do this one for Sweet Brinley
My friend and her sisters did this one for their mother who is battling breast cancer
And of course Debbie's
You can read about the buyers here - it's a cool story
Then aisle O to find my cousin's.
both she and her husband are firefighters with the United Fire Agency - it was a tribute to a Captain they had lost.
The Fireman's prayer had me blubbering
Then the wreaths to find two wreaths that I was told were there for some kids (never found them)and then after getting some food and checking out the gift shop we wandered the aisles and I stumbled on another for a friends grandbaby.
Casi had twins last year. Ava and Aiden. Sadly Ava passed away shortly after she was born. This tree was called Angel Babies. So sweet!
Others that caught my eye:
This giant mushroom made out of gingerbread! It was amazing
This was in tribute of the sweet baby you see in the drawing there. All things little girl.
This was called No Place like Grandma's (you see her there in the picture). Every fun thing that could be at a Grandma's house! I loved it
And who wouldn't love THIS one? This might have been one of Sissy's favorites!
They are all so beautiful! So much work, effort and love into each step of the process! And what I love most? You can tear up and cry as you walk the aisles and no one even bats an eyelash - they are too busy choking back their own tears!
After a couple of hours, Sissy had had enough and we headed home. She was pleased with her balloon and bubble experience. Splenda was inspired by the craftsmanship. I was humbled. Feeling grateful, and having a full heart for all things Christmas!