Pics from the event: http://bit.ly/COPl2012
No One Should Be alone for Christmas
My first few Christmases in Los Angeles I was alone, unable to fly home to join my family and it sucked. A couple of years ago I found out the week after Christmas that a few of my friends were also stuck in LA alone and I thought there was no point to that since we were all in town... all feeling lonely on Christmas day. If only we all had known, we could have been each other's company. I've done a couple of these “Orphan’s of LA potluck” parties thus far and they have been wonderful experiences with amazing people.
WHAT IS IT?
Essentially, it is a place to go on Christmas day so people don’t have to be alone. I send out a lot of invites (about 3,000) to spread the word to my community in Los Angeles and instruct them to spread the word to their communities, that if they are alone on Christmas day, or know someone who will be, they now have a place to come and spend the day. I open up my home to old friends, new acquaintances and a lot of strangers, which are friends that I haven’t met yet. All are people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas day.
A little over 40 people showed up on Christmas day with various assortments of treats, wines and dishes from the parts of the world that they originally traveled to Los Angeles from. About 85% of them were people I was meeting in person for the first time. There was a sense of hope and thankfulness in the air as each person arrived, not quite knowing what they should expect. I was greeted with lots of “Thank you so much for opening your home to us.” And “I am so thankful to have a place to spend Christmas day.” Throughout the day everyone relaxed into this new environment that was filled with people they didn’t know when they first arrived. I could see friendships forming and kindred spirits finding each other. I felt a little like an observer, watching from a distance as I floated around fulfilling my role as host. I was fully engaged with each person I spoke with, yet mindful of the person who may have felt like they were the “new person” and needed a few introductions to help them get started on their journey to making new friends.
It was a wonderfully fulfilling day and I would recommend hosting this type of event to anyone who has the means to do so. It doesn’t have to be on Christmas day, any day will do. The goal should be to bring your current community together and build it with people you don’t currently know. Helping to connect people will ultimately help all of us to break down walls and to build a stronger community overall.
It is my hope that, by raising awareness of the Christmas Orphan's Potluck, other's will be inspired to do the same thing in their own communities throughout the year. By opening their homes to people they may not know, in an effort to show love to their community, it will ultimately lead to more connectedness and other acts of kindness. It is like a large pebble being thrown into a pond of separateness. The ripples of that one kind act affect the lives of everyone who attended the potluck or heard about the potluck. Each of those people then becomes a potential new pebble to be thrown into that same pond. It will directly and indirectly influence many lives and lead to more acts of kindness, and ultimately connectedness within more communities.
You may not see the potential power of this sort of thing but trust me, as I have experienced it, you will absolutely touch people’s lives in a positive way when you open yourself up to them in this way. You will be an example for others to follow. What if the Gandhi of tomorrow is completely unaware of his or her own potential until your act of kindness ignites a spark in that person’s heart, which is then fanned into a flame of compassion for the world that burns so bright, the world itself is changed.
You can start the dominos falling in the direction of kindness throughout this world. It starts with YOU, not your neighbor, your sibling, your partner, your parents, someone you feel is more qualified, etc. You already have everything you need to start today. Start with one small act of kindness and let it grow from there. YOU ARE AMAZING my friend. Continue to let your light shine and decide to bring your awesome self to the world every day. Let that be one of your gifts to the world.
YesICanNow Facebook group: http://bit.ly/YICNfb
I'm the guy just left of the middle, in the green sweater, santa hat, a big cheesy smile and two thumbs up. :-)
The next two pictures are from the people who showed up in the evening.