Let me start off with addressing the fact that one of my dreams has always been to be a Christmas Elf. So, with that being said, I apologize if this blog is full of explanation points and overexcited rambling.
Christmas has always been a favorite of mine, and at Give Kids the World, Christmas is every Thursday! We, my new besties, hopped in Team Pearl and Team Gold, our Tahoes that we so lovingly named, and headed to the Village for a magical night. Our assignments were to dress as Christmas characters, join the parade, and entertain the children and their families. We paraded down the Village with other silly Christmas characters, lights, and lively music.
Once I put my costume on, I immediately became Ellie the Elf. No hesitation or insecurities that I normally feel were present--I was there to make this a special night for the children and their families, and I was going to dance the night away with my fellow Christmas characters (Peppermint boys and girls, snowmen, fairies, and princesses)!
At the end of the parade, we were instructed to entertain the children--we thought it was an appropriate time for a dance circle. In this moment, I was overwhelmed with pride because my group was stepping out of their comfort zones to entertain these children. Seeing the reserved children dance in the middle of the circles was one of the best moments I have had all week. I am so humbled that these children and their families would share these happy moments with me. The dance circle was. a. success.
At one point in the night, I saw a mother sitting with her 13 month old. I grabbed my fellow Elf, Cavalia, and ran over to the little girl. She immediately smiled at our silly costumes, danced, and gave us high fives. As we were leaving, the mother told us "Thank you," and that we had made the girls night. Those simple words made our night. I wish we could have expressed that we were the lucky ones.
Being on this trip has made me grow. I knew that this would be the outcome, but I never imagined that the impact would be this dramatic. I honestly have made some of my new best friends on this trip. We have gone through so many emotions in a short time period and have truly helped each other along the way. I have never been more proud of a group before. That being said, I cannot thank Give Kids the World enough. That Village and the families have changed me. I will never again underestimate the power of Disney or a simple smile. I am so lucky and blessed to have spent a week at this magical place. Words cannot express the pure joy I have experienced when seeing a child's face light up because I danced an elf jig.
The Village is full of hope. Hope and happiness allows these children and families to persevere and beat their illnesses. I hope I have touched a family this week because they touched me. Give Kids the World will always have a special place in my heart, and hope to return to this world Village full of joy, growth, and hope.