Hi, I'm Torrey. Welcome to Left Field, where creativity runs amok and imagination is ALWAYS more important than knowledge. Shoes are not allowed but ties are optional. This is a repository of snippets from my life out here in Left Field. One never knows what shiny bits of creativity will be found here... cards, scrapbook layouts, photography, poetry, recipes, ponderings, rantings and musings. It could be anything! Life in Left Field is always changing, always real, always ...interesting.

December 26, 2015

Next Stop, North Pole (revisited)

Hidy Ho, crafty peeps!
It's Christmas time, once again. I decided I need to re-post my North Pole adventure every couple of years or so, to remind us what the true meaning of this season is about--celebrating the birth of Christ and giving to those who are less-fortunate than ourselves. 
So, pull up a cup of cocoa, tea, or coffee and snuggle in for a warm-your-heart cup of cheer from me to you. Though it's been more than 10 years since I went on this adventure, I've realized this is a timeless story. Merry Christmas, everyone!
 
Next Stop, North Pole
by Torrey

Here it is the holidays, again. Most people are well caught-up in the hustle-bustle of the season; braving the malls and running around trying to get all their shopping done in time. I HATE Christmas shopping. Going to a mall this time of year makes me want to commit a murderous act—which, let’s face it, isn’t really what the season is all about and would most assuredly guarantee there would be nothing but coal in my stocking come Christmas morning. At any rate, instead of being all warm and fuzzy and filled with tidings of great joy,  at some point in November--fed up with the commercialism and greed of what "should be" a joyous time of year... I turned cold and prickly—sort of a cross between  the Grinch and a cactus. 
Christmas, BAH!

But today—today changed me. 
It changed me, forever. I just have to tell you what I did today. It was, hands-down, the most special thing I've done in my life (thus far).

Today, I went to the North Pole to see Santa. Honest. So, is it that you don’t believe me? Or is it that you don’t believe in Santa? Keep reading.

A doctor I work with (Neal) and I (a nurse from the inpatient pediatric unit at the hospital) were charged with this very special task. 

We were granted guardian angel status—for one day. 

It was a very simple assignment. We were asked to escort a very special group of people to the North Pole--to see Santa. Sounded like fun to me! So, Neal and I gathered up a bunch of our patients, then headed off to other hospitals around the city to collect even more.

All tallied, there were about 100 children that went with us to visit that jolly old elf. All of those kids who hail from all over the Denver-metro area are chronically or terminally ill. We loaded the kids on big buses and went, caravan-style, out to DIA (Denver International Airport). From there we flew to the North Pole, with a little help from a WHOLE BUNCH of "Santa's helpers" and a HUGE jet courtesy of United Airlines.

The Starlight Foundation (a nationwide philanthropic organization that helps sick and dying children...kind of like Make-a-Wish), in conjunction with the generous folks at United Airlines, sponsored this wonderful adventure. There were about 40 volunteers, all decked out in Santa hats, from the two organizations. The volunteers (Santa's helpers) accompanied all of these kids, and us, every step of the way.

With all 100 kids plus the Santa’s helpers, we went (en masse) through airport security....got on the shuttle train, and went to concourse B. Gate B42--where the marquis read "Flight 2004, destination, North Pole".

There we boarded the kids on the plane—a huge 747 superjet. We buckled them all in and readied ourselves for take off.  The flight crew informed me we weren't really taking off; we were just revving the engines and taxi-ing all over the airport to a hangar way on the edge of the airport. It was then that I was hit with a brilliant idea. I knew these kids all thought we were really gonna fly to see Santa, they were all so very excited, and I wanted to preserve their illusion as long as possible. So, I asked the flight attendant to make an announcement over the intercom. Instead, the flight attendant handed me the microphone and, being the shy wallflower I am, I grabbed it and made the following announcement:

"Hi kids! This is nurse Torrey. Are you’all as excited as I am to go see Santa?? (the whole plane started cheering and screaming YES!!!)  Well, I just spoke with Santa, and he has asked that we all pull the shades down COMPLETELY on our windows. He doesn't want ANYBODY to know where his workshop is. He says it's in a 'SECRET LOCATION', so all of you have to pull those window shades closed, and DON'T PEEK--'cuz if you do, you'll automatically get put on the 'NAUGHTY' list--for real."

Well, those kids shut those shades soooo fast--and, just as I hoped, they all thought we really flew. I swear, sometimes I'm hit with divine inspiration. I'm so glad God nudged me to have them shut the shades. Heck, it felt so real I thought we flew too. Who knows, maybe we really DID fly to the North Pole.


We were treated to an in-flight Christmas movie and Happy-meal lunches from McDonalds. We disembarked about 40 minutes later (after all, it was a magic jet), inside this huge hangar that they had decorated to look like the North Pole, complete with fake snow, Christmas trees, decorations, animated figures and everything. We were treated to a magic show (that was actually pretty cool—I still want to know how that magician got the rolled up dollar bill into that lemon). We played games and got our faces painted. There was a clown making balloon animals and there were cookies, candy and cocoa to fill our tummies—and, last but not least, a trip to see Santa, himself, sit on his lap and whisper to him our Christmas wish list.

One by one, the kids reluctantly approached Santa--climbed onto his knee and had a “chat” with old St. Nick. Each child excitedly whispered his/her deepest Christmas wishes into the jolly man’s ear. Santa looked at each child and told them how wonderful and special they were, how good they had been all year, and how very proud he was of each of them! 

I even sat on his lap and whispered in his ear-- thanking him for the very best Christmas present I've ever had--THIS gift--getting to be with all these kids. I kissed him on the cheek, gave him a hug and exited his lap (I'm sure his tired knees were grateful to be rid of this GIANT kid). 

Just then, a flurry of Santa’s helper elves appeared from nowhere and handed each child a 30-gallon trash bag stuffed to the brim with wrapped presents just for him/her (the foundation had gotten wish lists from all the kids in advance. And miracle of miracles, they fulfilled every last wish. It was nothing short of amazing. And yes, they even included the batteries.

After the kids got their loot, we were escorted into this HUGE room where the kids were all turned loose to open their gifts and…PLAY. It was an amazing sight; 100 sick kids, all with this incredible sparkle in their eyes—giggling and laughing. Pure joy oozing from every pore. I cried more than once, as my Grinchy heart melted. These poor children--some didn't have hair because of chemo therapy, some were attached to oxygen tubing, some were so frail and weak they had to be carried, some were in wheelchairs. But, in that room, for that little blink of time, they were healthy, happy children. 

Christmas miracles do exist.

On the bus ride home, I got so many kisses and hugs from the kids that I've got my quota for a lifetime. We sang Christmas Carols (Rudolph at least 5 times). One little boy named Johnathon, who had been silent and hiding behind me the whole trip (even at Santa), got up, came over, climbed up in my lap, looked at me and said, "Torrey, do you know the song about Jesus loving the children”? Well, I choked up and told him "Yes I do, sweetie, want to sing it with me?" He just smiled his crooked little smile at me. He couldn't get both corners of his mouth up into a smile because he has scleroderma--a degenerative autoimmune disease where your skin (and other tissues) literally hardens and becomes inflexible. We leaned in close, our foreheads touching, and sang "Jesus Loves The Little Children" very softly, just to each other. When we got to the end of the song, he grabbed my hand, held it tightly and asked if we could sing it again.
Jesus loves the little children,
all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white...
all are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world. 

Everyone on the bus went silent, and all you could hear was that little angelic voice (and me) singing.  He held my hand for the rest of the trip home. It was magical.

Ok, so I have been a horrible Scrooge so far this season--all hum-buggy and whatnot, but not anymore. I am so filled with the spirit of the season after this night, I am just bursting with a sense of peace and love. And, like that old Grinch, my heart grew, not 3, but about 10 sizes today. My prickles have disappeared and been replaced with a soft, warm glow. I'm all shiny and sparkly now--like tinsel on a tree, or snowflakes in the moonlight. 


Originally, I thought that a doctor and a nurse from each hospital in the metro area went. Later, I found out the doctor I work with (Neal) and I were the ONLY medical people who went, and we were specifically chosen (for whatever reason) to go. We were it, just us 2, WOW. It makes me choke up just thinking about it. I feel so honored to have been chosen. This was undoubtedly the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received. God sure does give the very BEST presents.


Anyway, that's what happened that day, back in 2004. I hope y'all have a joyous holiday season--whatever you call it--Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule, Ramadan. 

Peace. Love. Light.

Thank you, God.

6 comments:

  1. Cue the tears. Lots and lots. You are amazing. This story is pure magic. Thank you so much for sharing it. Love you. Blessed be those children.

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  2. Amazing opportunity, brilliant retelling, thanks for sharing.

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  3. Torrey - What a beautiful telling of an incredible event. It's no wonder you like to re-tell it - the memory is one for a lifetime!
    ~ginny
    RubberMAD

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  4. Awww Torrey what an amazing journey & experience you have had, the privilege to share the joy & happiness those children will never forget..bless you..

    smiles mousey sister Christine xx

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  5. Well Torrey...what can I say cause words just aren't enough!!! What a truly BEAUTIFUL and WONDEROUS story!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!
    Hugs from your Mousey Sister,
    Beth

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Thank you for taking the time to comment! It is always wonderful to get virtual pats on the back!! I truly appreciate every comment...they are little bits of love.