Saturday, January 2, 2010

A December Update

To my five faithful readers, perhaps a quick explanation regarding my absence is in order. No, I have not been lost in a grassy field such as the one pictured above nor did I spend time basking in the warm and sunny latitudes.

Much of the past month was spent working on a project that defined the true spirit of Christmas for me this year! I spent the better part of the month working on what I would call the community Christmas project. The program began about twenty years ago with the objective that no family should be without food or gifts on Christmas day. Everything, including the wrapping paper and tape are donated. This year the need, as you would expect, was overwhelming. We gave out over six hundred food boxes which included bread, milk, eggs, a turkey, and an assortment of canned and packaged good to meet the family's needs. I spent days sorting the cans of donated food; for the chicken soup alone, there are at least twenty different way of getting a chicken into a can of soup. I also discovered that there is a soup called Italian style wedding soup; so could someone tell me why Italy needs it own special soup just for weddings?

All the time while we were sorting and filling food boxes, another team of volunteers were wrapping gifts and matching them to the requests of specific children. It still boggles my mind that money was donated to purchase over seventy-five bikes of all shapes and sizes. I am certain that on Christmas day there were more than a couple of smiling kids in Astoria!

The final stage of the project happened the Sunday before Christmas when the adults came to pick up the food and gifts. For me the day was filled with mixed emotions; you could see joy and pain in the faces of those waiting in line for their turn. I am sure that for many, this may have been the first time they had to depend upon the generosity of others. It was also a bit unsettling as I recognized a number of the people which I sure added to their discomfort. On a more joyous note, there were the smiles of kids packing out bags of gifts and the simple expressions of thanks from parents that made it all worth while.

My lovely wife and I also made a journey to the east coast to spend Christmas with my family who live about an hour south of Boston. We arrived in the early evening of the 22nd to bone chilling winds and a temperature hovering around eighteen degrees. Thankfully we anticipated such conditions and were prepared with extra layers of clothing, gloves, and hats. No journey is without it trials and this one was no exception. Upon arriving at the baggage claim area, we soon learned that my wife's suit case has decided to spent a little more time at New York's JFK airport. The Delta baggage representative did assure us that it was on the next flight and should arrive in just about an hour. She even gave us a seven dollar food voucher; at airport prices it's hardly a meal but a nice gesture all the same.

Finally with baggage in hand and nearly eighteen hours without significant sleep, we board the shuttle bus for the car rental experience. If you have ever rented a car then you know exactly what I mean! After a short wait, we discover that the rental lot was nearly cleaned out so we had to wait while they prepare a vehicle for us. No problem, at that point another half hour or so didn't really matter.

Otherwise, Christmas and visiting with family was great. My sister cooked an outstanding dinner and my mother was constantly offering us homemade cookies. I ever got to spend some time with my best friend from high school which is always a treat.

The return trip was also one very long day complete with multiple flight delays, but we arrived at our final destination in one piece and very happy to be home. I still remembr the first time I travelled by air, it was in July of 1969. Oh how the world has changed since then; it's kind of sad.


Earl said...

Steve, what a wonderful way to spend December and Christmas. I highly commend you for donating the time so others might have a nice Christmas. I know those types of activities have a way of giving back more then you put in -- I've done some similar volunteering at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2010.

Steve Skinner said...

Thanks Earl! The Christmas project really was a great experience and have already added my name to the list for 2010.

Nancy Lewis said...

Merry Christmas to you & a Happy New Year!

Shelby said...

The project must have been special.. sounds great! And so glad you guys had time with family on the other coast.. and you made it back ..more memories in the making.


Steve Skinner said...

Thanks Nancy! Good luck on the new job.

Steve Skinner said...

Shelby, As you might guess, air travel is not a lot of fun over the holidays but believe me, we did make some memories!

Pamela said...

that is tooooooo freaky. I remember flying for the first time in the summer of 1969. My nephew was 3 months old, so I think it was June. I flew from Seattle to Bozeman where my Sis met at the airport with her son. He was the fattest little guy with a drooly chin and ears as wide as Montana.

So that is why I remember it.

Pamela said...

sorry - got carried away.

I also wanted to tell you thank you for being there for the holiday cheer. And, of you find out about wedding soup -- clue us!

Paul said...

Now that's true Christmas spirit! Count me in as one of the 5 faithful readers! :-)

Steve Skinner said...

Hey Pamela, my first flight was to Spokane so maybe we were on the same plane!

Steve Skinner said...

Paul, I have found that my volunteer experiences add a satisfaction and richness to me life unlike anything else!