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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Ashley!

I was excited to find out that I got Ashley. Even though I have probably seen her the least out of all the family, I have always had a special place for Ashley in my heart. When Lani and I were dating, I came out for Ryan and Tiff's wedding, and as most of you know when I was dating Lani I hadn't really reached the same level of progression that Lani had. She was working on her masters degree, and I wasn't close to finishing my undergraduate degree, not only that I was only going to school part time, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

When I came out for the wedding I was really self conscientious because I didn't feel worthy of Lani at all. I remember thinking "these people have got to be just waiting for her to dump me and so she can find someone more worthy of her". I felt this stress around the whole family, but when I met Ashley she made me feel really comfortable. I don't remember exactly what she said, but I remember feeling so relieved because she seemed to almost understand how I felt (I never told her anything that would make her know how I felt). I'll always love Ashley for that, and she will always hold a special place in my heart for how she put me at ease when we first met.

Upon finding out my assignment, I went back to look at what Ashley suggested for service. First, donate your hair. I sat back and imagined growing my hair out 10 inches. I thought back to a couple years ago when I grew my hair out a bit...I then thought how in the world am I going to look like professional MBA student with long hair? I sat back and remembered....Upon recollection, I recalled I didn't think the Pat Riley meets Larry Bird rat tail was very becoming on me. After about 2 minutes of these pictures running through my head I decided that growing out my hair would not be my best option.

I then moved to the next thing on Ashley's list...Make blankets for the Children's Hospital. This seemed to have more potential. I did some research on the Childrens hospitals in Spokane to find out what they might need.
I looked at several different places that offer help to kids like the Boys and Girls Club, and a couple of different children's hospitals. I was a little frustrated because most of the places I looked at only gave the option of a cash donation. I finally found one I liked, Holy Cross Children's Hospital in Spokane, and called to find out if I could offer a non-cash donation.
They had a wish list of items requested by kids at the hospital. So off we went.

Lani and Houston and I headed off to our friendly neighborhood dollar store to load up on presents that the children had requested. We stocked up on play dough, crayons, flash cards, and coloring books. They even had a 3-D Pirates coloring book!

As I was walking through the hospital with Lani, and Houston, I reflected a bit on how cool it is that all of us are doing something to make the world better at Christmas this year. I thought about how neat it is that one day I will be able to show Houston this picture of us at the hospital and tell him about what we were doing and how it helped other kids not much older than him. I decided that I want my own little branch of the Gates family to do something like this every year and let our kids help choose a way to serve and then do it.

I'm really glad we decided to do this this year instead of presents. I'm a guy who has always loved opening presents on Christmas morning but I can honestly say that I am anticipating seeing what everyone did for their service much more than I would be to open gifts. I know that the gift I gave is a little thing, but I could tell it meant a lot to the people we did it for. I'm grateful that we did this this year.

So Merry Christmas Ashley!


  1. This is the first one we are reading and we are already crying and laughing as we feel the spirit of Christmas.

    Mike, thank you for sharing your experience of meeting the family for the first time. Of course, I am so glad that Ashley is part of our family, but it is so heart warming to read how she was a bright light in welcoming you to our family. We love you so much. For what it is worth, I don't recall being to worried about your status at that point in life because I knew that you understood and supported Lani and that you were a righteous and faithful man. (Plus, I was a 30-year old family guy just starting law school, so my path wasn't a fast track to any successes in life.)

    Reading this was so great, I want to call y'all to wake you up so you can read them right now. Not to sound too much like Char, but this is the best Christmas ever!

  2. Thanks Hock! I'm sure those children loved getting a gift while in the hospital at Christmas time.

    Thank you for your sweet words. I had no idea that I helped you feel more comfortable meeting the Gates family. As one that came into the family a little bit before you, I knew that it could be overwhelming. But come on, how great is this family?!

    Best Christmas EVER!!

  3. Does anyone else sing "Cool Rider" when they look at Hocks Jacket? Sorry...just had to throw that in there.

  4. What a babe I married! I'll take my "cool rider" any day!

    Ashley- thanks for being the welcoming committee amongst the chaos of a Gates wedding! I think those two paragraphs were my favorite part of it!

    I love you sweetheart!

  5. I have to agree with Ashley this family is the best. I talk to my friends and they always act like going to the in-laws is a real drag, but I can honestly say I LOVE spending time with my second family, and really look forward to it.

    Before I got married I used to be really bummed when I thought of having to split the holidays with my wife's family. But I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that I now feel the same way about the Gates family that I do about the Hock family, genuine love.

    I'm very proud that I am a member of the Gates Family. I love y'all(that was for you Chuck)and I have loved doing this activity for Christmas this year.

  6. Oh Hocki... I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!!!! Thanks for being such a great husband to my Lani. I truely could not have picked out someone better for her.

    And I like the jacket!