I realize that Christmas was so last week and we have all moved on to 2012, but I have to tell you how God used the mighty donut to make this Christmas one of the best.
To say that I had been dreading this Christmas was a gross understatement. Since the day after Thanksgiving I had been fighting against the season. I felt grumpy because my dad couldn't be home with us. I felt alone because I feel like the dreaded "7th wheel" of my family. I felt vulnerable because all that I have known in my world was changing. And I felt sad that I was in the midst of one of my favorite times of year and I was missing the joy in it. All in all, it was a rough December.
But then something happened. I don't know what it was other than a minor miracle from heaven. But a week before Christmas I awoke to a deep feeling of peace in my soul. I can't describe it, I can't explain it, I can't take credit for it, but all I know is that for the first time in two months, I could see past the next day.
So, on Christmas Eve, my mom and I headed south. Right before we left, my dad called to say that the local prison ministry he is working with had gotten permission to bring donuts to all the campers. And my mom and I were asked to deliver the sweet goods since Alamosa is completely void of everything except a Walmart.
And let me tell you something, my car has never smelled as good as it did with 12 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts wafting through the air. They need to make an air freshener in that scent. It would make bank, I'm telling you.
When we arrived, we brought in the boxes and before I could even set them down for inspection, men were beginning to line up. The main office of Camp Alamosa is surrounded by glass and very quickly it begin to feel like I was on display in a store window. Normally I would love this feeling (I'm an ex-theater major, remember?) but the power of the Krispy Kreme can lead people to do dangerous things. I am pretty sure some were already drooling at this point.
The guys from the ministry set up a table in the common room and all the campers lined up, incredulous that the camp had allowed outside food to come in. A few announcements were made, an applause broke out from the crowd, and men politely waited their turn for their very own fried ring of dough. My mom and I hung back, just watching, sometimes chatting with a few of the guys we have come to know, realizing that we were the only women in a sea of 100 men.
SIDE NOTE: I always feel very safe at Camp Alamosa but where's a wedding ring when you need it?!
As the men began to file through, a reception line of sorts was formed. After grabbing their donut, they began to shake the hands of those in the ministry and then they came right around and shook my hand and my mom's. Some of them made eye contact, some did not. Some said "Feliz Navidad," some did not. And a few gave my mom a hug.
My mom leaned over and asked one of our camper friends if this had been a good idea and he looked at her and said, "I have never seen anything like this. This is amazing. You don't realize how much this means to them."
Apparently there is just something about a donut on Christmas Eve that warms parts of you that have been cold a very long time. I was all-too familiar with this coldness and didn't take lightly the work that was going on in the room that night. I couldn't describe it, I couldn't explain it and I definitely couldn't take credit for it.
As an added bonus, my mom and I, along with a lady from the ministry and one of the camp guards, were allowed to take two dozen donuts to the women. There is a women's facility at this camp but they are completely separated from the men. This was the first time I had been there. We were able to stay for about 20 minutes and talk to the women. They were beautiful and shy and kind and the lady from the ministry offered to come by weekly to meet with them if they wanted. Some of them brightened to the idea.
I was also introduced to a woman who had just arrived. She didn't have any clothes of her own so she had to borrow from others. She didn't even have a coat, which is a death sentence in Alamosa since it is one of the coldest places in Colorado, or really anywhere on the planet for that matter. And if her family doesn't bring her any clothes, she will have to continue to borrow them from other campers. She didn't even have her own undergarments.
You guys, I just sacked up three garbage bags of clothes that I don't wear anymore. I'm pretty sure God was giving me a healthy dose of perspective mixed with a heaping spoon of humility that night. And I am also pretty sure that I am going to take those three bags with me the next time I head to Alamosa. I'll take yours too if you want.
By the end of the night, all 144 donuts had been consumed. The guards even had two dozen of their very own to enjoy. The ministry had made huge inroads to connecting with the campers. And I had just witnessed an entire correctional facility find some common ground on Christmas Eve.
Obviously there is a reason why my dad is there, probably more than one. Everything within me revolts at our current situation. But there is a mighty work going on, so much so that it made all other Christmas Eves pale in comparison.