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CVA Team's Holiday Memories

It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's a time for friends and family, kindness and appreciation, creating new traditions and celebrating old ones, and a time to reconnect and recommit as we prepare for a new year. Our team invites you to take a minute to read about our favorite holiday memories - and the impact they've had on our lives.



Adrienne Wright, President

“My favorite holiday memory started with a small tragedy.”

When I was 13, we experienced a house fire on Christmas Day. In the middle of opening presents with six kids, someone must have left something on the stove, which caused a fire. The fire department came. We had to vacate the house. We were out on our front lawn and the entire street could see what was happening. Our Christmas was ruined. It was a warm day for December, and slowly, everyone started bringing out gifts, stockings, things to eat. We had Christmas in our front yard while the house was being sprayed down. Neighbors brought food, hot cocoa, pies, coffee, and we forgot for a moment that our house had almost burned to the ground. The house was saved - it was just the kitchen that was damaged. I remember holding my youngest brother, who was 3 at the time and looking at all of this around me. I never understood community until that moment.

Some of Adrienne's family in 2017


Andrew Pegalis, Secretary and Treasurer

“A reminder to recommit yourself, especially in times like these.”


Holidays have always been about family. All of my memories of Hanukkah are of extended family, celebration, laughing. My older cousins would have funny stories, and we’d sit and listen to them intently. Now, this is something I try to recreate for my kids - create memories, traditions, help them be more connected to the religion. Hanukkah is the celebration of the survival of the Jewish people, religion. The Jews hid, fortified themselves at the top of the mountain and their story also has an important connection to Christmas. Had there been no survival, there would be no Jesus, no Christmas. I’ve had many traditional Christmases as well, with friends, and would feel welcome there. This is a holiday about dedication and recommitting yourself - to religion, to all of your aspirations, ways to live your life. To commit to give back, to be kind to people, to not take your family for granted.

10 year old Andrew in the middle with his older cousins


Holly Gordon, Community Manager

“Enthusiasm and good attitude goes a long way.”


As a person without much family, I’ve tried very hard in my adult life to create my own traditions. I love all holidays, especially Christmas (my name is Holly after all), and I love to host. I’ve had a holiday party for the last 17 years. I’ve sung in choruses my whole life, and for one holiday season in 2010, organized an informal group of carolers via GayRVA.com, a site my friend Kevin Clay launched (and later sold), that I was on the editorial and advisory board for. People of all backgrounds were invited to sing, I printed up sheet music, passed out hand warmers, and we caroled through Carytown one frigid evening in December. We weren’t very good, it turns out, because singing outside in a group, walking in the cold, is a lot harder than it seems! Especially for an untrained, unpracticed group without musical accompaniment . But I appreciated everyone’s enthusiasm and cheer and we were a hit even if we were off key.

Holly and the GayRVA carolers in 2010


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