Happy Holidays! A year ago today, I was sitting in our room at the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas, sporting a newly cut mullet and getting ready to go see Evan for visiting hours. I can’t believe how far we’ve come.
Last week I was excited to connect with Jan Gunter at The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas. I felt incrediby honored when she asked me to write a blog post for their site. I wanted to share it with you first.
Last December, we drove through the gate at The Ronald McDonald House in Dallas after a very long day at the hospital. We were overwhelmed and exhausted. Evan had been checked into the pediatric psych unit of Children’s Medical Center. It had not been a good day. We had no idea how long we’d be there, or how we’d manage being in Dallas for Evan and Austin for our daughter.
When we walked in, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course I had heard all about the Ronald McDonald house (RMH), and I’ve eaten my share of quarter pounders with cheese (extra ketchup and pickles), but in a million years, I never thought I would live there.
From the second we walked in, it felt as close to home as one could hope for. While you know everyone there is under incredible stress, I have never met so many kind, gracious, wonderful people. Everyone shares an unspoken acknowledgement of the reality that we’re all there. Most of all, everyone there just gets it.
One day, I was doing laundry and started talking to another mom. We hit it off, folded our laundry, and went down to the cafeteria for coffee and the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. We talked for hours about our stories. We laughed, we cried, and we both were in awe of the amazing gift we’d been given by being fortunate enough to stay at such an incredible place.
We were blessed enough to get to drive home for Christmas, and having already been in the hospital for over a month, the first thing Evan wanted was….McDonalds. We walked up to the counter, saw the change collection box, and Evan asked what it was. I explained that people could donate there to help families like us. Evan looked up at the cashier and said, “Thank you for helping my family have a nice home while I’m in the hospital.” I looked at the young lady and tears rolled down my face.
The Ronald McDonald House is more than a charity. It is a home. It is a refuge. It is a miracle. When we got back to RMH after Christmas, we walked in to our room to find stockings stuffed with toys, candy and gift cards. We couldn’t believe it. Evan was so excited that Santa knew where to find us.
It might not have been Santa in our room, but it was definitely a Christmas miracle. The community that is created by being part of the Ronald McDonald House can only be described as that. I’m thankful to be home this Christmas. I pray for all of the families that are spending their holiday at the hundreds of Ronald McDonald Houses across the country, and I thank everyone that donates, volunteers, and works with RMH for the miracles they create every single day.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy week to share my stories. I will be taking next Monday off, so the next post you get will be next year!
I wish you and your loved ones a blessed holiday season and a happy, healthy, and wonderful 2012! Until next year!