Tomorrow is the 3rd Annual Adams Holiday Extravaganza, also known as the annual Christmas project. Each year we take turns choosing the project and the recipient. Last year, Mom chose. She picked this group, and we all went out hunting down warm pajamas and creative books. This project was great for two reasons. One, we could each purchase individually what we could afford and had budgeted for. Two, I had a coupon, two gift certificates, and LB had just put everything on "final clearance." Don't judge. The cheaper it is, the more you can buy. I got lots of super pairs of pajamas for $16. On Christmas Eve, we delivered them to Lorrie Shadko, who directs the Memphis chapter of the program. For me, comfort in its most primal level comes in comfy pajamas, bedsheets, and good stories. It was a joy and an honor to get to pass that on to children whose lives are desperately short on comfort and joy.
This year, Tom picked. It has a funny backstory. Tom called me at work one day to bounce the idea, and I confess I thought it...not likely to come to much. Frankly, though a good idea, I was pretty sure the State was going to shut it down. But I liked the idea at heart, and I'm really glad he decided to go through with it. Adamses are workers, and we love a project. But usually our projects don't always bring us into much contact with the beneficiaries. Like with the pajama recipients. Thanks to Tom's idea, this year we will.
With Vanessa's family joining in, we are going to set up shop tomorrow at the I-40 westbound Jackson rest stop to distribute more Christmas cheer, this time in the form of coffee and snacks. We have decorations, drinks, snacks, music--the works. I'm very excited about doing this, and although the weather will be miserable, hopefully we'll be a little spot of brightness. There are a few people who won't be there with us, but whose past generosity and openness of spirit will be with us:
Charlene Brown gave me a metal table-top Christmas tree last year that is lit with candles instead of string lights. Anticlimactic. But TDOT won't allow us to plug in any type of electrical cord, so her gift solves the problem!
Hope Shull got onto me once as a student about bringing food and drinks into her library. When I returned as an employee, I discovered she had actually purchased a coffee bar and was encouraging students to eat, drink, and be merry. In the library. She is letting us use all of the urns to keep the coffee and other drinks hot.
The State of Tennessee--inefficient, a "bottom ten-er", and run by good ol' boys--really liked the idea. That is, the guy at the Jackson TDOT headquarters did. And as long as we avoid the power cords aforementioned, don't solicit, and don't block entrances and exits, then they will support our efforts at Christmas cheer. They could have said no.
And I hope that our visitors will enjoy the Christmas cheer, too. I've thought a lot this year about what it means to put good things out into the world. You may call it karma or kismet or good vibes or whatever. How does our Christmas party for strangers at a rest stop ripple out into the rest of the world? I don't know, but it is my prayer that it does. I know you will put good things into the world.
Pictures to follow!