(Additional photos on my Family Blog.)
(Above: Alex and his girlfriend Erica at Festival of the Trees, an annual charity event benefiting Children's Hospital.)
(Above: The event is spread throughout the spacious lobby, atrium, and ballrooms at the South Carolina State Museum...so above is a bar under a Fiberglas replica of a pre-historic giant white shark.)
Alex and I have been donating to the annual Children's Hospital charity event, Festival of the Trees, for six or more years. It is very special because Mathias had skull surgery when he was only six months old at Children's Hospital. He was released on Christmas Day. At the time, there were only four beds in ICU. Now there are 18. The event raised over $216,000 last year...plus, the gala is WONDERFUL...black tie (expect for handsome teenagers!). St. Joseph's choir serenades guests into the event. There a mimes, harpist, two bands, excellent food and drinks, photo ops with Santa Claus, and plenty of wreathes and trees available by silent auction. The evening truly ushers in Christmas for us.
By the end of the gala, my tree had a $250 bid...not bad. I valued it at $400...which is one of the least expensive ones in the event. Yet, I don't go out and solicit businesses for hundreds of dollars of gift certificates. I had 40 fiber ornaments valued at $10 each. The bidding actually stops on Sunday at 4 PM. People attending the gala can "guarantee" their bid at 75% (or thereabout) of the value. So, someone had to bid at least $300 at the gala in order purchase my tree/end the bidding/prevent the bidding from going until Sunday. Alex's tabletop had a "gala take-home" price of $110. It sold that night for $130. Steve returned to the museum on Sunday to check the prices. Unfortunately, whoever bid that night had withdrawn their bid. My poor tree only had $100 on it. Steve bought back the tree for $125. Shadow, our cat, is thrilled to have it back in our living room. I'll likely sell the ornaments at the Artisan Center or maybe trade them with people who understand the value of something that isn't "made in China" and bought in Atlanta at the wholesale Merchandise Center. I can reuse the tree and some of the ornaments again next year. (I've got a new idea already...lots of tulle and pointe shoes...a very "ballet" themed tree.) Don't get me wrong. I'm not the least bit disappointed. There were over 250 items available. It is a very good cause, a fabulous evening, and a tax deduction!
(Above: Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade chain with a retail outlet here in Columbia. They donated a unique tree made of baskets each year...accompanied by dozens of gift certificates for additional purchases.)
(Above: A row of "table top" decorations...Alex's Blues piece is just visible.)
(Above: The strangest theme...Pirates of the Caribbean Christmas tree!)