Sunday, the Embassy held their annual holiday party for the entire staff and their families. As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking for the CLO office and it was not without it's obstacles! Even with the absence of the CLO's goodie bag offerings and craft items due to a lost package snafu, the event was a tremendous success!
Preparing an event of this magnitude requires tons of effort and cooperation, not to mention a great big space. Nova (Christopher's school)was kind enough to offer their facility again this year and proved to be an excellent venue with plenty of space to accommodate the crowd. They also provided some teen volunteers (Christopher included) to help monitor the children in the fitness room and to run the coat check rooms. The main lobby was transformed into Santa's den, with the designated "throne" awaiting his arrival. (GSO warehouse reserves a special chair for this specific function, off limits to even the Ambassador!) Face painting tables entertained the little ones, almost 200 of them I'm told, and strategically placed tables offered plenty of sweet treats to nosh on. Craft tables were set up in the nearby classrooms to give the kids a chance to paint, color and create ornaments. The fitness room downstairs was open for the kids to blow off steam by playing ball, ping pong, jump rope, etc. The cafeteria offered a welcome spot to sit and enjoy a soda, coffee, or hot cocoa.
I was pleasantly surprised by how wonderful and smoothly the event played out. Even with the crowds, I never felt uncomfortable or cramped. It was a very enjoyable evening and the children had a wonderful time. They really enjoyed visiting with Santa, kudos to Tom, and were more than satisfied with their treat sacks, kudos to CLO. I am impressed with how they managed to overcome the adversity of losing all their preordered items and still offer a truly fantastic experience for the children of the Embassy! It was a lovely way to kick off our holiday and I thank them for it.