A Christmas Miracle

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Letter from Tree of Hope Recipient

This past Christmas season was kind of tough on my family. It was the first Christmas for my wife and I as a married couple. We have been dealing with the failing health of family members, the financial struggles of being on our own in our first apartment, and the stress of changing jobs. My wife had asked me to consider our budget for Christmas decorations. I felt like I was in a tough spot. I went into that conversation knowing that we had spent more than we made for the previous 3 months, and our budget for the month was slim to none. Although I wanted to be practical, I also know the impact of spreading joy at Christmas, and focusing on what truly matters. So should I be the Ebenezer Scrooge and “Bah Humbug” my way out of the discussion, or should we spend money we don’t have on decorations we cannot afford?

I spoke to my good friend Allie Jacoby about the dilemma I was in. She immediately understood my struggle as someone who loves Christmas cheer, but also is on a tight budget. She encouraged me to think of little ways to bring Christmas into our home. “Get a Christmas candle and some Hot Chocolate!” was some of the best advice I would receive in that moment. I know that any little effort matters, and I bought a candle and hot chocolate. But you have to understand- my wife is single handedly my favorite thing about life. I adore her and cherish her and I want to fill our home with love and cheer and support her hopes and dreams. And she LOVES Christmas. Little did I know, Allie was already starting to scheme.
Within a day, she called me up with a surprise. CARES had a Christmas tree to donate to us, and all the decorations to go with it. I was thrilled. I didn’t tell my wife because I wanted it to be a surprise. I sent her on a secret mission to pick up “a special package” that was at the Newport-Mesa YMCA. It was one of the most memorable surprises she could have had! The staff loaded the tree into her small sedan, and she left grinning from ear to ear.

We set the tree up in our living room and she was so proud of that Christmas tree. Turning on the Christmas lights was the first thing she did every day when she got home from work. This Christmas represented so much to us. This tree was bigger than pine needles and glass ornaments. It was bigger than creating traditions and a place to put presents. To me, this small Christmas tree embodies the CARES program and those who are in it. This Christmas tree created a warmth in our home that showed us we are part of a community. It was an act of love, support, and community that I will never forget. A community that cares about us, and supports us, and reached out to us— not because they had to— but because they wanted to.
I am forever thankful to the YMCA and the CARES program for spreading Christmas cheer and for showing us so much love at such an important time. We had an amazing first Christmas, and every time I saw that tree it felt like a big warm hug from the CARES program.

Thank you CARES program, for turning me from Ebenezer Scrooge into Buddy the Elf. Thank you for filling our home with Christmas joy and helping us remember the reason for the season. We support the amazing work that the CARES program is doing, and had the most memorable Christmas of my Life. YMCA CARES Program, thank you, thank you, thank you.

-Anonymous

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