Friends of Hue Childrens Shelter 2010 Christmas Celebration: Santa Claus Came to Town
The holiday season always brings with it the hustle-bustle and goodness of holiday cheer, but this year’s holiday season in Vietnam also brought some much-anticipated visitors, including Santa Claus!
Jenny Do, US Children’s Shelter Director, returned to Hue, along with Michel Lopez, Andrea Huynh, and Nhat Thanh Tran to give the children an unforgettable Christmas. Early in December, Jenny asked each of the children to write a wish list, so she could fulfill their Christmas wishes: 25 kids, 25 different presents – each donated from a prominent leader in the Californian community, members of the American Leadership Forum Class XXII.
In the weeks prior to her arrival, the shelter buzzed with activity! From preparing decorations, to putting up the tree, to practicing songs and dances, in addition to studying for their final semester exams, the kids were quite busy, to say the least. They were responsible for decorating the Shelter and putting on performances for Christmas Eve. Not only were the Christmas decorations made completely out of recyclable materials, including milk cartons, business cards, and plastic cups, so was the tree! The kids worked together on the night of the 22nd to assemble the humble Christmas tree, stacking old decorative stars on top of one another, then gently and with pride, hung their handmade ornaments. Each child’s strength was highlighted as they worked together to really make this Christmas special: some were leaders and took charge of assembling the tree, while others motivated the rest to sing and dance, and yet others displayed their creativity in designing the ornaments – all in preparation for the big day.
When the big day finally came, everyone was in high Christmas spirits. For the night’s entertainment, a variety show produced and performed by the kids blew everyone away. Notable performances included Alvin & the Chipmunks’ “All I Want for Christmas” by our very own “chipmunks” Danh, Du, Duc, the girls’ upbeat dance to Girls’ Generation “HaHaHa Song,” and the boys’ beat-heavy hip-hop dance. The most impressive of all, however, was the high-fashion runway show – designed, constructed, and modeled all by our kids!
Oh – but Christmas day brought more festivities! During the day, all of the kids had to attend school as normal, but after dinner, the kids gathered around our small, humble Christmas tree for their very own White Elephant Gift Exchange. A 9 year-old boy from the States donated $50 for the kids to purchase their own presents to give to one another. In addition, each child attached a “deed” – a promise to do a favor for whomever received his/her present. The kids were thrilled to hear each other’s deeds and unwrap the goods. After an hour and a half of combined gift-stealing strategy and teamwork, the boys ended up with 4 sets of flowery cups, instant coffee, and a box of cakes, chanting “Tonight the boys will stay up! Drink coffee! Eat sweets!” The night’s festivities concluded with everyone gathering together for a Xuan Phu family Christmas portrait.
This year for Christmas, the children received presents under a Christmas tree, met Santa Claus, and gave each other “deeds” – but most importantly, they experienced the spirit of giving and sharing. Many thanks to everyone who shared their heart with us this Christmas. This was definitely one Christmas for the books.
We at the shelter hope you all had a holly, jolly Christmas and a very happy New Year. We can’t wait to see what this new year will bring!