We arrived too early at the Casa Central – La Posada in Humboldt Park. The bad news is that we were at the wrong location; we were supposed to be at Kedzie and Evergreen in Humboldt Park but were actually at California and Evergreen instead. We talked to the person in charge and rectified our mistake. Even though I had been there last year, I hadn’t paid attention, being in my Zen-Santa prep mode, I think. When I went online, I came up with the California address and not the Kedzie one. The same thing happened to the rest of us. Nonetheless, we were only a few minutes away.
We arrived and unloaded the huge amount of gifts (we had sixteen plus kids to take care of) and extra clothing for the shelter. There were six of us and it took several trips to actually empty the Oakton van.
Once in, we saw the venue, all decorated for the event, and spoke to the person in charge. She said that the kids were in another basement room and were preparing for us. She started setting up the ‘buffet’ of chicken wings and barbecued beef. She had coffee for us and water or apple cider for the kids.
Once they came in, after some seriously hysterical ‘ho ho hos’ on my part, things commenced. When the kids walked in, one of them immediately ran up to me and gave me a hug. That set the mood. I walked around and talked to the kids who told me that I was too thin, and had no comment for my beard. I told them that Mrs. Claus had set me up on a fitness kick, since I was overweight. Regarding my beard, they never touched it; it was one of the adult helpers who asked if she could, lol. The kids had three songs to sing for us, one of them being Feliz Navidad. They did a great job with them.
We then had them eat while I walked around and spoke to pretty much each and every kid. It seemed that no one was older than eleven or so. Many of them were very shy and needless to say, they were very excited. There were a few kids who were not able to come and their gifts were set aside. There were a few additions and we were prepared for that scenario and took care of them.
Then I sat by the tree while their names were read and each child came up and received the gifts passed to me by the Oakton helpers, all decked out in Santa and Elf hats. We paused and had a photo taken, all of the kids being reminded that they could stand next to me or sit on my lap, if they so desired. Most of them were so excited with the gifts (which are personalized since they had ‘written Santa’ with their wants and needs which were then taken care of by Oakton people) that they could not even think about the photos, they had to be reminded.
After that, we pretty much shut down the event and I went to turn myself back into what some have called ‘my biker look.’
It was an amazing event and we all had a great time.