This holiday season, between New Mexico and Minnesota I was fortunate to experience six times the celebrations. The ABQ YAVs hosted a holiday gathering fundraiser and invited all of our supporters and fans. We had a great turn out and I felt like we helped spread some holiday cheer to the people who helped me feel at home in New Mexico.
I celebrated my birthday with my other YAVs and several other Albuquerque Presbyterians at an event called Wass-Ale-ing where we had a great time singing carols and supporting a local brewery. For celebration number three my coworkers threw me a birthday party at work, it was nice to take a break from working to eat delicious food and celebrate. Then in Minnesota (on my actual birthday), I had a birthday party. For Christmas, we celebrated twice, once for each side of the family. Every celebration was just as meaningful, joyous, and memorable as the others.
Two things I found myself reflecting during the advent season and on my holiday break are seasonable charity and support systems. First, in my position as the volunteer coordinator for Heading Home, I was intrigued by the number of people who were interested in volunteering one time and only for the holidays. There seemed to be a seasonable outburst of interest in helping others. The busiest time period being the week of Thanksgiving until Christmas, in that span of time I answered more phone calls than ever before from people wanting to serve food and adopt families. The idea of spending the holidays giving back to your community is nice and is sure to make you feel good and help support those in need but it is important to remember charity isn’t seasonable. I would like to encourage you to remember that vulnerable populations exist and need immediate and long-term care and interest 365 days a year. There are always volunteers opportunities, immediate needs, and larger systemic problems and we always have the option to do something to make a positive difference.
Second, because I went home for the holidays, this celebration season provided time to intentionally strengthen relationships. While I was in Minnesota I was lucky enough to have time to relax at the lake and share time with friends and my family. I am grateful for their willingness to listen to my stories and experiences from Albuquerque so far. What I felt the most when talking about my adventures so far and the people I spend my time with was joy and love. I cherished my time at my snow covered home with my favorite Minnesota people but I also found myself missing New Mexico.
During the past four months, I have met so many incredible new people that have become part of my support system. As part of my end of 2018 reflection, I became focused on the value of important relationships, leaving comfort zones and support systems. The people I spend my time and my experiences with have the opportunity to help shape me for better or for worse, it’s all in my attitude and the way I chose to learn from them. I am incredibly grateful for my support system and for people pushing me in both Minnesota and New Mexico and without them, I would not be who I am.
I didn’t make any New Years resolutions because I believe we can always improve regardless of the day or time of year. I am excited for the new experiences and challenges 2019 will bring for me and those around me. Here’s to hoping 2019 is filled with more love, joy, peace, and hope!