Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Christmas Reminder From My Daughter

The beginning of 2014 started with the mantra I will be intentional with (insert goal, priority, or loved one here.) As the year rushed to a close the mantra changed to holy crap I swear I had the best intentions with (insert goal, priority, or loved one here.) I was so sure 2014 would be the year I'd break the pattern of good-intentions-gone-awry. 

I could cough up legitimate excuses for my failed attempts at perfection. My parents' health issues, busy month of October weddings, intense family issues, etc. derailed my plans to be proactive with early Christmas shopping. As usual stress reigned supreme during the weeks leading up to Christmas. 

I don't have presents. I couldn't afford presents. What the hell is up with all these company pot lucks? 

My family said they understood. My friends said it was okay. Meanwhile, I raged inside, beating myself up for not having my shit together again! 

Until my daughter, Maricelle, called me on Christmas and dropped the knowledge. I was envious of her excitement to serve on Christmas Day. While I focused on the negative (what's new?) she reminded me what Christmas was about. Why does it have to take great lengths for my brain to crystallize into coherent sharpness? 

So on the final day of 2014, Maricelle graciously agreed to be my "guest blogger" and share her Christmas Day experience. I'm hoping I can take what I've learned and let the reason for Christmas rule my heart every day in 2015. We are all going through something, we are all broken in some way, and our situation could always be worse. 

Happy New Year and let's all make 2015 an extraordinary one! 

Maricelle's Christmas story: 

I decided to volunteer during Christmas because Ben and I weren't able to do the same philanthropy project on Thanksgiving because I was sick.  Since Ben was scheduled to work on Christmas day, I was hoping to give back to the community and plug myself in some non-profit org that I could possibly continue to volunteer for in NYC (been yearning for philanthropy since that was my drug in San Diego).

I volunteered for this organization called Project FIND.  Read their mission statement on the document that I attached.  First, we delivered hot meals to homebound seniors in the lower west side of Manhattan, near Times Square (gross touristy and lame lol) and Port Authority (port authority used to be a really ghetto area and many homeless people).  We delivered hot meals that were prepared by other volunteers.  We were all split into groups and delivered to nearby low-income housing buildings where senior  citizens and/or homeless people rented from.  The age range of volunteers were from 16 year olds-36 year olds. So we delivered to homebound senior citizens where they each had a home attendant/caregiver.  Many didn't speak English, mostly Spanish (Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Blacks). 

We split up the list of senior citizens of the building and decided to deliver individually within our group.  However, the last delivery, we decided to deliver together as a group.  We were all excited because it was our last delivery, all together in a group and wanted to sing a Christmas carol, but decided not to.  When we rang the doorbell, this old Hispanic woman answered, tears flooding down her face and she was on the phone.  

We were surprised as we didn't expect this type of reaction compared to the other deliveries, all home care attendants/senior citizens expressed gratitude and thanks.  I first assumed maybe this 50-something year old lady had been physically abused but when we asked if she was okay, she then told us that her mother just passed away.  We were stunned, didn't know what to do except deliver the meal, console her and say positive holiday greetings like "merry Christmas, I'm sorry for your loss."  Such a paradoxical statement, right?!  We all left with many emotions, sadness, realization that people have it far worse than whatever we as humans complain about. 

Then, we ended the day serving a huge luncheon to 150 homeless people ranging from 50-80 year olds.  They were not homebound judging by the way they were all doing the electric slide.  The volunteers served cafeteria based meals such as cheese, Hors d'oeuvres, turkey, chicken, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, pie, coffee, milk.  Every homeless or low-income individual who we were serving were so cheerful, energetic, grateful and excited.  Mind you, they were shameless too!  Very diverse group, some were immigrants, one was a tarot reader, met a Vietnam War Veteran, etc. 

The best part of the experience was not only the gratification of giving back to the community, but that it exceeded my expectations of how much fun we all had.  Live singer, hilarious dance music (oldies but goodies, Macarena, salsa), they even played a song in Tagalog! 

Anyways, I was so thankful for this experience because this is the type of event that makes me feel like I have a purpose in life.  Lastly, I met a lot of really cool, interesting people but really connected with this 36 year old woman who looked 22 years old!  She was born in Taiwan and has been living in NYC for 12 yrs.  We delved deep into each others lives even though we just met haha.  Her pseudo American "mom" just passed away 2 weeks ago, but this is the mom of her ex.  Despite being separated from her ex who is dating another woman, she still kept in touch with his mom because that's how close they were.
Maricelle and a Vietnam vet
Maricelle and her group