Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Christmas Tumbleweed: The Unlikely Eyesore That Became An Eyecatcher And A True Example Of Christmas Spirit!

In Yorba Linda, just outside of LA, where the city starts looking like country, a giant tumbleweed is moored on a rocky embankment in a vacant lot. Neighbors differed on whether it's been there for a few months or a few years -- so accustomed are they to seeing it -- but they agreed on one thing: It was an eyesore. Until, that is, a few weeks ago when two 17-year-old girls drove by it for the umpteenth time and decided to spread some Christmas cheer. What better way, they thought, than to spruce up the unsightly thing. The two high school seniors tapped into the Christmas spirit by decorating an ugly, huge tumbleweed. They also touched the neighborhood.

"We were driving by after school, and we just thought it looked so ugly," Kaitlyn Hillquist says. "We thought, let's decorate it." So Kaitlyn and Holli Powers went to a 99¢ store and bought a few red bulbs and a garland. They figured they'd add some baubles in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and that would be their good deed. They've done much more than they imagined. It may be too sappy to say that a singular act of holiday spirit has touched a neighborhood.

The proof is that the tumbleweed monster -- measuring about 10 feet high at its peak and some 40 to 50 feet around -- is decked out in full-frontal Christmas regalia. As neighbors saw the results of the girls' original effort, they stopped by the corner and added their own touches: a star, a Santa hat, some more bulbs, some more garlands, some flocking, a "Merry Christmas" banner. "We're thankful," Holli adds. "That people wanted to get involved. Especially at Christmastime, when everybody is so busy and caught up in the hustle and bustle. We're proud," Holli says, with a grin. "It's our baby."

Sometimes, if someone were adding a decoration, a driver would go by and honk and wave. A woman in a nearby cul-de-sac says everyone in the circle donated something. No one was more surprised than the girls at what they started. "We definitely thought it would just be me and Holli who decorated it," Kaitlyn says. Lest you think this is just a "girl thing," meet Ron Guidry, 72. "Once I saw what they'd started," he says, "I felt it was my turn to jump in. I thought it was a neat idea, whoever started it, and it looked like it was being added to daily, so why not put my two bits in, too?"

Karen Lawyer, a 13-year-old Yorba Linda Middle School student, says, "Every day, I add something." She mentioned the angel hadn't been there the day before, and she said her mom and dad helped her make it Sunday night, by sewing a dress on a doll and fashioning its plastic wings. Molly Arii, a three year old with incredible Christmas Spirit said, "Look, they're decorating a Christmas tree.' I said, 'That's not a Christmas tree, it's a Christmas tumbleweed."

You know what? These two girls' simple act as symbolic of something larger: They could have done nothing, but instead chose to do something. That something turned out to make many people happy and feel connected to a neighborhood and that unified people. Not unified in a grand sense, but in a way that made them feel good, all trying to turn ugliness into something if not beautiful, at least not so ugly. So you see...It's the little things that really matter!