White Elephant, White Christmas, and Happy Holidays

It’s almost the holidays and winter break! So, the other co-directors, assistant directors, and I decided to have our annual White Elephant. It’s a great way for us to bond and relax after all our work this semester. We’ve been really proud at how visits have been going, dealt with some stressful things such as volunteer attendance, and tightened up some of our reflection policies. Overall, this semester has been great for our program, and we have grown together as a leadership team. To celebrate, we gathered in one of our common rooms with presents in hand.

The cozy room we gathered in was already full of holiday spirit! Check out the picture below - there was a fake fireplace that set the mood, delightful stockings hanging up, beautiful lights, and a room full of 9 enthusiastic individuals.

There were some great gifts exchanged including a penguin cup, moleskine notebook, starbucks gift cards, chocolate, tea, and other goodies. It was really fun as people started "stealing gifts." All part of the White Elephant fun - I ended up getting a gift stolen, and getting it back. It was a lot of fun watching what people wanted and joking around through the entire process. 

Most importantly, there was joy in the air as we sat on the couches with cups of either warm tea or hot chocolate in hand. We didn’t talk about HCAB logistics, but rather, it was exactly that which had brought us together. As we ended our gift exchange, we did a sweet (but slightly cheesy tradition). We passed along gratefulness. To elaborate, we each randomly picked a person and talked about why we were grateful for them this semester. We talked about both their individual qualities, relationships with them, and their work in HCAB. It allowed all of us to not only reflect on our time as HCAB leaders, but also to feel appreciated by the own work that might go unrecognized. For me, it was so touching to hear about how people had viewed my role in shaping the program. In that same vein, I am sure that other co-directors and assistant directors felt similarly. 

On this blog, I often talk about my special relationship with my buddy because it is truly unique and unlike anything else. However, I often don’t take enough time to truly appreciate the individuals around me who I have had the pleasure of meeting because of the program. But, today, I am talking about it. I am so lucky to see relationships, like mine and Nancy's, grow, especially evident in van reflections after our programs. I am so glad for the collaboration between co-directors and assistant directors; this teamwork allows our program to stay aligned to the mission and continue growing. These people mean a lot to me me, for these working relationships have grown into wonderful friendships. Today, I am taking the time to really reflect and be grateful for all of these relationships. A gratefulness I will carry into the holiday season!

Of course, I am also grateful to all of you for staying through this journey with me. Happy holiday to all of you, my dear readers! 

- Ellen Zhang