Monday, December 15, 2008

An inspiring holiday activity

For the past four or five years, I’ve been invited to judge a Christmas decorating contest at Alderson Federal Prison Camp. Each of the eight 125-bed housing units is issued a small budget for supplies, which the inmates supplement with cardboard, poster paint, natural materials and found objects to transform their living spaces into a winter wonderland. The winning unit gets a pizza party.

Today’s the day.

In addition to decorating, they write and perform a skit based on each year’s theme (provided by the warden). Guaranteed tears.

In spite of the many challenges I’ve dealt with this year, I have much for which to be thankful. These women remind me every Tuesday night (when I go there to volunteer), and at Christmas – an especially difficult time for them – they manage to pull out all the stops and express extreme gratitude for their lives. Most of them are grateful to be locked up, instead of on the streets, as they recognize this “time out” as an opportunity to work on themselves and change their behaviors.

Anyway … it’s time to go. Have a good Monday.

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