What a full week of Christmas festivities it’s been over here in Munchkinland. Thanks to your donations and a couple cheery volunteers, we were able to keep the party going all week.
It started with candy and caroling. They had to sing for their snacks and the song of choice as jingle bells….or their version of it which is “jungle balls”. I’m still laughing at how loudly and confidently they continued their noteless cadence of “Jungle all the balls” in hopes of getting more candy. It worked. They got to have “five please” as opposed to the usual “one please”.
I had planned to do candy and caroling again the following day, but an usual request from the munchkins coincided with an unexpected donation so we had a change of plans. When the candy ran out on Monday afternoon, they were just dying to get their hands on those hats, “Teacha ow muang, Teacha ow muang” (want hat). Now usually it’s the parents who force the children into wearing adorable seasonal headwear and the children who throw the hats on the ground. But you always want what you don’t have, right?
So on Tuesday we set up the orphanage equivalent of a Sears family portrait studio and they all lined for a turn to sit on Teachas lap and take photo with their very own Santa hat. They got to choose their own pose. Most popular was me holding them like a baby and singing Justin Biber, “baby, baby, baby OOOOOOHHHH”
Christmas Eve was time to show the big kids some love, so a volunteer and I crashed the cool kids high school lunch table with a few dozen gifts and some dance moves. As teenagers, they’re normally way too cool for school but they spent a lunch break with us and dangled their gifts out of the windows, yelling “thank you” as they went back to class.
Christmas Day was the whole enchilada. The night before, Ben and I spent five hours wrapping gifts and filling pastry cups with bland tasting, brightly colored Pandan pudding (it’s gross but they love it). Ben also provided hundreds of cards and paper snowflakes made by his students in town.
Everyone talks about sharing on Christmas but on this day I actually saw it from children who had every reason to grab for their fair share. When the cards ran out we shared hugs and high fives. When the pudding cups were gone, we shared the sprinkles. When the presents were all opened, kiddos shared pieces of wrapping paper. And as I was leaving, one very special pretty girl shared her love in a way I will never forget.
This is Nok. Ten years ago she and her twin sister Nam lost their family and their home to the tsunami. She had just opened her gift and was anxious to show it to me. They were Hello Kitty hair clips. I told her they were beautiful and started to put them in her hair. She said “no no Teacha I give you, hair like Elsa”. She put them in my hair, told me she loved me and stood waving at the gate of the school until I was out of site.
I’ve since had dozens of people approach me asking where to buy the clips. I want to tell them the clips can be bought in any old bargain bin for .35 cents but the love it takes for a child with so little to happily give you her only Christmas gift is a truely rare and priceless find. What a beautiful Christmas.
Funded by The Hubers, The Greentrees and The Loewenbergs