Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Franciscan Outreach Volunteers!

Charlie entertains fellow guests during dinner at the Marquard Center

Monday, December 17, 2012

A New Way of Celebrating the Holiday


Molly Anne enjoying Chicago
It is that time of the year, the holiday season.  The past four holiday seasons have been filled with stressful tests and papers followed by a month-long break.  However, this year I am not in college; I am a full-time volunteer with an allocated amount of time off, ten vacation days.  I went home to North Carolina for the week of Thanksgiving knowing that it would be the last time I would be at home for any holiday during the 2012-13 volunteer year.  While I was at home though, four of the other full-time volunteers worked during the Thanksgiving holiday because the soup kitchen is open every day of the year.  Now those housemates are going home around the Christmas season instead.

Charlie playing Christmas music
I have finally come to the realization, which is always delayed, that I will not be at home this Christmas.  My parents mentioned the other day on Skype that they are sad that I will not be home but know that being a volunteer means giving up normal life routines such as being at home with my family for every holiday.  The radio has been playing Christmas tunes all morning in the soup kitchen, and one in particular, "I'll be Home for Christmas" hit me hardest because I will not be home.

Franciscan Outreach Christmas party
I am sad about being away from my family over Christmas, but I am excited to celebrate the holiday season with the guests at the soup kitchen, with the part-time volunteers, with the full-time volunteers, with my cousins and aunt, and with my boyfriend's family.  One of the guests who is a very nice man, but normally is shy and quiet, came up to the coffeepot that I so regularly find myself using, and said it is "that time of year".  I agreed and spoke to him about my adventures at home and my future Christmas experience at the soup kitchen.  He shared that we treat him so well and that he is looking forward to spending the holiday together with us.

Donald providing dinner entertainment
So just the moment I felt sad about my time apart from my family and friends, I realized that I will be celebrating Christmas in new ways and with people who I consider my family, the guests and full-time volunteers at the soup kitchen.  No, I will not be opening Christmas presents under the tree while eating homemade pumpkin bread and drinking mimosa's, but I will be spending my day in Chicago with people who know me better than most.  This is my home, Franciscan Outreach, and this is my family, the guests and volunteers.  The gifts that I will be opening are not materialistic presents, which I never desire anyway, but gifts of fellowship and love.  I will be experiencing the most Christ-like Christmas-serving, as Christ did on Earth.