Shut the F*$# Up! The Greatest Christmas Surprise.
On December 15, 2020 I made a MOVE and bought myself my first home. For someone who, in the past, wouldn’t sign a 1-year service agreement with Verizon to get an upgrade, this is a monumental step.
But this post isn’t about my big accomplishment of buying a home. (If you want to read about how I went from “homeless” to homeowner in 2020, check out this post.) Instead, this is about a joyous, crazy Christmas surprise put together by my friend Rachel and a lot of other folks. If you’re needing a dose of faith in humanity, read on.
When I moved into my new house, alone, I came with what I have left after three years of living like a nomad. Basically nothing. Clothing, some sentimental items, a nutribullet, and a few pieces of art. No furniture. Not a bed even (and because of my commitment-phobia, I’m still sleeping on an air mattress until I decide on the perfect one.) I didn’t own a plate. A fork. A pan. A step stool. Nada.
Which was fine by me. I was given a little starter pack from my mom, including towels, a shower curtain, a couple pans and a few of each piece of silverware. And then a too-generous gift from Dad to celebrate my new home and help me get started.
I figured that I’d furnish the place bit-by-bit slowly. As long as it is mine, and I feel safe, cozy and at home, all the rest will fall into place with time. What’s the rush? I thought.
I’d been living out of a car for the last few months of 2019.
This is Rachel and I in New York
My friend Rachel has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my home-buying process, demanding every detail, never getting bored of the mundane or the money talk, and cheering me on the whole way through. She’s around my age. Unmarried and childless, like me. Loves her life, like me. Finds joy in seeing other women going against the grain, fulfilling their dreams, and shaping their life in whatever way makes them happiest. Like me. We celebrate lady-bosshood together frequently.
Rachel was proud of me when I bought the house. She was proud of me when I decided to buy a house. And every step in in between. And not just regular proud, but like ‘I want to brag about you all day and DO something to show how proud of you I am’.
She started thinking about something all of us “single” people have thought about before—why do couples get all the gifts?
We attend bridal showers where couples are showered with new cutlery and dishes, as if they’ve been using paper plates for all these years they’ve been cohabitating. It is not my only issue with showers, but that is for another time and place.
This is where Rachel’s support, kindness, and SNEAKINESS came into play.
When I moved in, instead of sending me a succulent and a sweet card (which would have been totally appreciated), Rachel held a virtual “housewarming” for me.
She blocked me from her social media and explained to family, friends and followers that I’d just bought a new home, one that I’d need to fill with items. She gushed about me and my accomplishment to an embarrassing degree. (The way that only someone who truly loves you would.) She questioned why single people don’t receive the same fanfare and celebration when achieving lofty goals as couples do. She thought it was wrong. And that we should throw me a housewarming party—if it weren’t for the little thing that defined 2020.
With in-person gatherings off the table, she arranged (very stealthily) for the next best thing. Rachel asked that others who wanted to contribute to this little “virtual housewarming” Venmo her any monetary amount. None would be too small, and I would be left in the dark.
She mentioned that I’d be mortified if I knew, and she is right about that. I would have put my foot down if I had the slightest inkling of what was going on. But I had no idea.
Even crazier than her sneaky idea is the fact that people actually donated. They sent congratulations, words of support, and monetary gifts through Rachel and to me. To help me kickstart my new life. To say “You are a badass” and “Way to go”.
And clowning around in the Flight Deck.
People that I know-work friends and acquaintances sent in money for my virtual housewarming. And even people I don’t know—friends and family of Rachel’s—chipped in to help me buy a couch or a rug (or maybe even a succulent!) She sent me a Venmo transfer totaling more than $1600. Which will go a long way toward making this house into a cozy little home. And along with the money, she sent me screen shots of the kind words that people had offered up. Things that were so sweet and heartfelt they brought tears to my eyes.
While I felt weird accepting a monetary gift like that (There are people in this world who really need donations, amirite?) my perspective shifted after seeing these words. They weren’t giving me charity. They were giving me a housewarming gift. They were giving congratulations. Resounding approval. Snaps. Acknowledging that it’s a big deal—not just to me.
To know that some of the contributors of this generous gift were people whom I have never met before shocked me in the best kind of way. In my mind, they have proven two distinct truths:
1. People are good.
Despite our differences, what we see in the news, or how we can all be wrapped up in ourselves sometimes. People want to help each other out, to support others. Even loose acquaintances, even complete strangers.
2. My friend Rachel is one of the best humans that exists.
Not because she thought of this ridiculously, outrageously thoughtful thing to do for me. The evidence lies with all those people who don’t know me, who only know her, pitching in to throw me this virtual housewarming. Knowing only that “Rachel says she’s amazing and a badass” and immediately jumping on board. This speaks volumes to the opinion others hold of her, to the weight her words have, and the trust she has earned from the people in her life. If you know her, you get what I mean without a lengthy explanation. If you don’t, this Christmas gift is a perfect testament of the kind of friend she is. A supporter. A judgement-free sounding board. A cheerleader, someone who genuinely takes pleasure in others’ success. A ride or die.
Over the years, Rachel has taught me to be a better friend by her example. (And a much better hugger, though she claims there’s still room for improvement.)
I want to give a shoutout of gratitude to all the people who sent monetary gifts, well wishes and sweet words of congratulations.
Huge Thank You to:
Mrs. Debbie Hope
Mr. Jim Hope
Kelly & Kev Cummings
And I’ll share Rachel’s Christmas wish-come-true posts that are too good to keep to myself. Click on to scroll through the whole sneaky, beautiful thing.
I hope you all are lucky enough to have friends like Rachel, and I hope this post restores your faith in humanity just a little tiny bit.