Hope for the Holidays

Megan and Mitch with their sons, Blake and Brady
Mitch and Megan with their sons, Blake and Brady

by Megan Koester

November is here – I’m not sure how that happened, but the clocks have been turned back, the weather has gotten brisk and the holidays are upon us. Growing up, this time of year was about traditions. We would always partake in hot chocolate, zoo lights, cutting the Christmas tree and volunteering.

As I grew older, the holidays started to feel more like to do lists and less like fun traditions – gifts to buy, food to prep, and places to be. That all changed three years ago when I began working at the Ronald McDonald House.

The stagers came to our House and put up decorations in each room on every floor to make this place feel like home. Community groups came to bake cookies and provide warm meals for the families. Church groups, families, corporations and friends took time together to collect and drop off items from our wish list. Families came together and gifted nights of rest for families instead of gifts for each other. It was amazing! The House was abuzz with people who have made time in their lives to help families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

Our families are dealing with the stress and reality of having their child in the hospital for the holidays. All of the sudden, their family traditions are put on hold and their lives are turned upside down. However, when those families come to the Ronald McDonald House for a night of rest, they are greeted by the sights and smells of home. It is truly amazing to watch our community come together to make this House a home for the holidays. They give so much of themselves to comfort the families at the Ronald McDonald House. It reminds me of the importance of traditions – the feeling of being together as a family and the spirit of the holidays.

This year will bring more traditions. We will continue our traditions with friends of the Ronald McDonald House as we make the holidays special for each of our families. It will also be the year that I begin a new set of traditions with my own family. This April, my husband and I welcomed Brady and Blake, our twin boys, into the world. We are already discussing the family traditions we want to create and the memories we want to share during the holidays. These past three years have reminded me to value our time together and to create traditions that will allow us to make the holiday spirit special in the lives of others. I am enjoying getting back to my roots and feeling the excitement November brings and the ways we make this season memorable.