I am honored to share this beautiful guest post from Flight Attendant Cody Kruse
I needed to take a moment, and really collect myself on this one. I’ve been having a bad week.. Just a bad week. Little things have really gotten to me, I’ve angered friends, got even more angry with myself and was selfishly upset. I volunteered months ago for this event that my employer holds annually. It’s called the Fantasy Flight. Volunteers all over the country (in select cities) gather together, decorate a terminal to be the north pole – and through extremely generous donors and charity give gifts to underprivileged, and terminally ill children from the area. As the date came closer, and my silly week waned on, I was starting to regret volunteering. I just wanted to stay home, and mope. So this morning, I got up, got ready, put on my little elf costume and headed to the airport. I walked to the gate that the flight departs out of, which was very cutely appointed and adorned in holiday gear with a complimenting crowd taking pictures, cheering, and waving. As I got closer, I saw the line of wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers that the children left behind as they boarded their magical flight to The North Pole.
They board the aircraft, which is also decorated and sparkling, with a costumed and smiling crew, complete with carolers and all. They take off out of Houston, and embark on a 45min flight to Santa’s workshop. When they land, they taxi over to a terminal that has been closed off, and completely redone to look like a Christmas wonderland. The children received iPods this year, with a gift card to spend on iTunes. When they arrive, they’ll be greeted by 15 Christmas trees, cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn, NFL autographed footballs, face paint, handmade decorations, a rising Opera star, food, and of course – a picture with Santa Clause. I was appointed to Santa’s photo booth, where we took the pictures from the photographer, and put them into beautiful holiday frames. So as preparations wound to an end, I’m standing in an empty terminal with about 100 volunteers waiting for the Fantasy Flight to arrive.
At long last, the plane lands and as they’re opening the cabin door – we’re cheering in the terminal. From my spot at the end of the welcoming line, I see walking from the aircraft the two most beautiful, precious, and nervous little girls coming into sight. Big sister has a shaved head, and little sister is right there, tight in her hands. Nervous about where to go, they smile at each other and head into the crowd with Mom.
As the children start filing out, we head to our stations ready to greet them and give them their gifts. The photos with Santa start, and as they line up for their turn on the big guys lap, you can see the look of pure magic on their faces. The smiles, and giggles, this pure, untainted moment where these boys and girls can be a child. Where they left their illness and ailments behind, even if for just this moment. To see the innocence in their faces, and know that this very well could be the last Christmas for some of these beautiful children, who have just started their lives – was absolutely heartbreaking. But this moment was theirs, and that look of happiness on Mom, dad, brother and sisters faces was so humbling – I cannot put it to words. Presenting Dad with the picture of his beaming, beautiful family and replying to his question of “How much?”, “Sir, They’re free. Merry Christmas.” was the exact moment I lost my grip. He said, “I can’t believe how amazing this all has been. Thank you, Thank you so much.”
In that moment, I knew that I was the most fortunate person to have been given the opportunity to be there. Helping them, helped me. The boys and girls today where my Christmas gift, and I couldn’t have been happier. I walked away today a changed man. My heart was completely humbled, and I appreciate so much now about my silly little week, and just how trivial we can be.
“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.” – J.K. Rowling
Take nothing for granted, appreciate every crappy day, every stupid little thing that gets in the way of our overly busy lives because some people, would give anything to have that day with a loved one. I couldn’t be with my family this Christmas, and I know they’ll understand when I say, this was the best Christmas of all. I will always remember that moment, for as long as I live.
From Katia Hernandez Cunningham (who was also lucky enough to be involved with the Fantasy Flight):
“WOW!!!!! It was a magical day indeed. Every year this has been done, we go on a mock flight and taxi around the tarmac before arriving to the north pole. This year for the first time, we were able to get enough sponsors to actually get to take off and really fly. Lots of these kids had never set foot on a plane, much less flown before. The squeals of delight and surprise was simply touching.
We sang and danced on the aisles with them, some got the chance to get pics taken in the flight deck with our pilots, and these childrens’ faces would light up going from one surprise to another. I feel blessed to have been a witness to this Christmas miracle, and I am thankful that my airline does this every year.”
Post photo courtesy of Cody Kruse
Front page photo courtesy of Katia Hernandez Cunningham