I woke up Wednesday morning, and all was quiet.
I shuffled out into the silence, rubbed my eyes and looked around.
My dad wasn’t in the kitchen whipping up a Christmas morning breakfast of waffles, pancakes, bacon or whatever else he could find.
My 22-year-old sister wasn’t kneeling under the tree shaking her presents around like she always does, trying to guess what she got.
In fact, there was no Christmas tree at all. There were no lights, nothing to make it feel like it was anything other than an ordinary Wednesday.
I was alone in my apartment on Christmas day with my family 221 miles away.
In 26 years, I had never spent a Christmas alone. I was sad.
There was no way I was sitting by myself all day. I couldn’t. I’d end up bawling, missing my family.
So I drove to Main Street United Methodist Church.
Kokomo Urban Outreach had set up shop there for the Christmas blitz. They were packing 1,500 sack lunches for people in need in our community.
I showed up to lend a hand. If I couldn’t have the Christmas I wanted, maybe I could make sure others did.
More than 200 people joined me. So many people gave up part of their Christmas to help others. There were tiny kids, old men, teens, married couples, whole families.
Some made sandwiches. Others wrapped gifts in case families needed those, too. Then there were people like me who packed all of the food into grocery sacks for delivery.
I was in charge of packing the bananas and oranges.
It was loud and boisterous in the fellowship center. People laughed and sang Christmas carols. Others happily chatted as they worked.
I found out the kid to my left, who was opening grocery sacks for me, is a freshman on the Kokomo High School basketball team.