When most people think of vacations they imagine tropical beaches, the warm sun glazing your skin, the feel of the icy ocean water splashing against your leg, a paradise in a sense. I learned that that is not always the case. Some vacations end up meaning more than any beach, shopping trip, or hike could ever bring to pass. It was about 2 and half years ago when my dad invited me on a business trip with him. This wasn’t any ordinary business trip though; it was his office’s Christmas charity known as Navajo Santa. Little did I know I was in for quite a treat. Navajo Santa is a delivery of gifts to the families in need on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Bluff Utah. They gather food, clothing, toys and tools to give to the many families in desperate need of help.
The trip first began with a 5 hour drive to Bluff Utah. I must say in the beginning I wasn’t too thrilled. It was my first week of Christmas vacation. All my friends were either partying back home with out me or taking exotic trips with their families and here I was in the middle of the desert with absolutely no cell phone service. It was going to be a long week. When we arrived we were taken to what felt like the only hotel in about 50 miles, The Desert Rose Inn. The rooms were shabby, the sheets rough and soiled, I couldn’t imagine this adventure getting any worse.
After we got all settled we were shuttled off to the elementary school a couple of miles away. That is where it all began to change. The rest of my night was spent assembling sack lunches for all the children I was supposed to meet the following day. My bad mood quickly faded as I was surrounded by adults who were glowing with love for the families they had come to help. Navajo Santa is a yearly tradition for all of them, some of the children there had become like their own.
The next day we woke up bright and early to deliver our gifts. The Navajo chief gave us a speech before we headed out for our journey, a speech I will never forget. With tears in his eyes he began to tell us his people’s story and how grateful he was for our help. Words can’t describe the feelings in the room as he preformed his native dance to the crowd.
The day continued to shine as we drove for miles and miles to the different homes we were delivering to. Their houses aren’t like most; they are all spread out tens of miles apart, no where near each other. Despite the distance and without fail, every single house we delivered to brought the same feelings of warmth, gratitude, and unity. You could feel the love those people had for one another and even for me.
The most touching part of the trip was seeing the children’s eyes as our dressed up Santa stepped out of the car. It reminded me of just how precious life really is and how it is the little things that matter most. It was a humbling experience seeing how thrilled those little kids were with just a simple coloring book and crayons. We had not only made their day, but probably their year as well.
I will never forget the people I met that year, and more importantly the lessons I learned. Life isn’t about what we have, but what we give. At the end of the day what matters most are the people we helped and the lives we changed.
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