1 Day Till Christmas – Giving Back

Tomorrow is Christmas 2017.

What a year it’s been… a world full of turmoil, strife, love, loss, grief, happiness…

Today, with my yoga studio owner and other members and friends, we took presents to a children’s hospital.

It was very sad that all the children in the ward were in quarantine with influenza of some sorts. We left the gifts with a very nice head nurse who was grateful for our visit and excited to let the parents in to select toys for their young ones.

Can you imagine that? A child, in the hospital, on Christmas.

A very sad thing indeed.

Here’s to all the kids (and adults) who have to spend the holidays in the hospital. I can only imagine that is the last place you would want to be and my hope is that you get out with a clean bill of health sooner than later and that you are able to be with your loved ones, because really, when you boil it all down to the point, it’s being with loved ones that make a holiday special.

After the hospital, I rushed home to prepare for my first Christmas Eve dinner at my home for family and it went off without a hitch.

Here’s a big Happy holidays to all my readers and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

XOXO

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2 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

Wait… what?

Yup! It’s TWO DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!!!

I am sorry to make this quick but I am tired!

Today I decided to give back by preparing for Christmas Eve at my place. My husband, Don, and I are hosting the family holiday for the first time!

I cleaned, prepped and made a lasagna – up to the point of sticking it in the oven to bring the cheese to a boil.

We did the last of the decorating and the final shopping. Gifts are wrapped and under the tree, (here’s hoping my nephews can make it through Sunday Christmas Eve dinner before opening presents!), and the apps are waiting to be prepared.

Phew!!

We am so happy to carry on a tradition my mother and father once did in Buffalo, NY in the 1980s. Christmas Eves at our place were a thing to be remembered.

Here’s hoping we can give back to the nostalgic feeling while also creating new traditions of our own.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!!!

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3 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

Today was part 2 of 7 Days till Christmas

Quick summary – I volunteer at an organization and one of my tasks is to deliver a holiday gift bag to an elderly person in need. She wasn’t thrilled to hear from me until she fully realized who I was. And though she didn’t want to schedule a drop off time, I tried to make it work.

From our conversation, I surmised that she was going to be away this week. So, I purposely waited until today (honestly, I was suppose to drop it off by yesterday but I fudged that a bit…) because I was hoping to catch her home.

Sure enough, I did this afternoon and what a lovely moment we shared.

I delivered her present and a big smile spread across her face. She mentioned she was expecting it. I told her I purposely waited because I knew she was traveling. She told me she just returned last night. She felt the bag and with a smile, said “Oh, this is heavy!”

I told her how much we appreciate her and how we wish her a merry Christmas and happy New Year. She told me the same and we parted with smiles on our faces.

Not the ending I knew would happen, but it was certainly the one I hoped would…

3 Days Till Christmas!!!!!

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4 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

Who better to give back to than a pair of loving grandparents?

When I was a child, I admit my grandparents were not my primary focus. Don’t get me wrong. I loved going to grandma’s because it typically meant I was going to see my extended family, in particular my cousins who were all around the same age, and have a great time while the adults chatted at the big table but I should mention the adults all spoke in Sicilian to one another so none of us kids could understand much of what was being said.

But my Nonna and Nonno were always happy to see me and I especially remember my grandma’s cooking and the smell of onion and garlic wafting throughout her house, no matter which room you were in. Tomatoes from the backyard were always used to make sauce, a Sunday tradition for us Sicilian folk, and all seemed right with the world back then… ah, famiglia!

It was only a few months ago that I introduced my Nonna and Nonno to my husband, Don. They were unable to come to the wedding unfortunately, as they’re in their nineties, but it was very important to me that they meet Don and I wasn’t willing to risk anymore time so we went this year. It was a wonderful visit and they welcomed him right in. He got to see a little slice of my past while meeting two people that mean a great deal to me.

Sorry to take the scenic route to my point… Today, I wrote a letter to my grandparents (in their native language, which I’m still in learning-mode on!) to say hello, happy holidays and to let them know I love them both very much. I am waiting to mail it though, because I want to print a few photos to include in the envelope but didn’t get out of work in time to go do it. Tomorrow morning though, I’ll be printing and mailing and I hope when they get my card, it puts a big smile on their faces.

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”  –  Alex Haley (American writer, 1921-1992)

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5 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

It’s 5 days till Christmas!!

And for today I decided to check out the Beacon Light Mission to see what their needs are and if I could fulfill any. I’ve done this before around the holidays and thought of them today.

I should mention I am agnostic. I am not Christian and though this is a Christian organization, I am drawn to it not for this reason but for the fact it provides showers, meals and beds to men in need and have been doing so in some way since the early 1900s. They aim to rehabilitate and to me, that all starts with a meal, a shower and a bed.

Whatever religious belief guides such a mission is fine with me. They seem to be transparent about helping and I dig that.

So, I went to their Amazon gift list and purchased a 6-pack of men’s boxers.

Maybe I’ll make someone’s holiday just a little brighter with some bare essentials…

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6 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

For those readers who have been with me a while, you may remember an organization I like to volunteer my time with by writing letters to those in need.

It’s called More Love Letters and after reading Hannah’s book years ago, I became a fan of the site and volunteer at least once a year by writing letters. I am a bit late for the holiday season but wanting to make sure, I checked the site and lo and behold, there was one more request for someone in need.

Today, I am writing a letter to a complete stranger. I believe it is a sign for her that she is not alone and I’ve included some words that have helped me in the past when life threw me something I wasn’t expecting or prepared for.

I encourage you to check out this site. More Love Letters is a global non-profit organization driven by the mission of spreading love to those who are heartbroken in some way. Something we have all been through at one time or another…

I love that I can give back by using my skills as a writer. And I know, if and when the time comes when I need this, the universe will provide because I firmly believe that what you put out in the world comes back to you.

“For it is in giving that we receive.” St. Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226

6 DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!!!! Spread that giving spirit!

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7 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

Today was interesting. And an opportunity to spread some holiday cheer a la’ spur of the moment.

A little backstory first.

I volunteer and one of the events I signed up for was to deliver a holiday gift bag to someone either elderly or disabled.

I picked up my bag dutifully by the deadline and set out today to plan for delivery.

“Hello, may I speak with XX?”

“She’s not here, thank you…” (Tries to hang up #1)

“Excuse me… Sorry to bother. May I leave a message?”

“No, I’m sorry. I’m not near a pen. But I’m sure we’ll hear about you if we need to…” (Tries to hang up #2)

“I am very sorry. I am calling from XX and I am the volunteer for them. I’ve been assigned to deliver a holiday gift bag for XX and I would love make sure she has it before Christmas. At her convenience, of course.”

Silence.

“I’m not in town. But the neighbor to the west when facing the garage, is friendly and will accept it. Or you can leave it at the doorstep.” (Tries to hang up #3)

“Oh wonderful! I’ll see what looks safe and will do exactly that. Thank you. I’d just want to get the present to her before Christmas.”

Silence.

“Thank you so much. That is very kind. Happy holidays to you.”

“Happy holidays to you also!”

7 Days tills Christmas!

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8 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

It’s 8 days till Christmas!!

And today I decided to give back by spending time with my nephews in a positive and educational way.

I see my nephews, ages 8 and 6, weekly, unless I’m out of town. It’s a commitment I made to them when each was born. Flash forward to today, this weekend, and time was a little limited with my work schedule and their schedule, but we made it work.

During the two and a half hours we hung out, we did a map puzzle of the United States WITHOUT looking at a picture, drew dinosaurs (I’m pretty confident I could beat most in a trivia game about the Triassic period, I’ve been quizzed by an 8 year old, but I digress…) and then ended the morning with a few games of “hide ‘n find”, a game we made up which is a little like “hide ‘n seek” but instead of hiding ourselves we hide toys and then the other two have to find them and if it starts to take too long, we turn on the game of “hot and cold” too (it’s very fun!)

I witnessed smiles on two children’s faces today and the sounds of their laughter and “I love yous” were enough to make me want to give back to them until I am no longer able. They are the future and I want to help guide them toward a positive and healthy one by giving them their auntie’s time, attention and love.

La tua famiglia è tutto, as my grandparents would say.

Till tomorrow…

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9 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

Today, I decided to give back by spreading positivity.

I am a big believer that positivity begets positivity and the energy we put out in the world comes back to us.

Today, I decided to take advantage of any opportunity that came my way which allowed me to spread positivity and you know what, when one stops to look, there’s nearly endless ways…

I like to write in different settings outside my house and today I chose a fast food restaurant (and no, I did not have a diet coke even though the soda fountain was practically calling out to me…) I got up to use the restroom and saw the attendant was just beginning to clean it. He was going to stop in the middle of polishing the door to let me use it but I stopped him instead and told him no rush, I could use it when he was done. He smiled and was surprised. Later, when I was walking home, a bicyclist was on the same sidewalk as I and it was narrow. Rather than make him stop for me, I climbed onto the grass hill to my left and smiled, letting the biker pass by. As he did, he smiled back and said, “Thanks. Appreciate that.” At the fish store, I selected the fish my husband liked, rather than the one I do. I asked him what he wanted with it and cooked him a dinner he enjoyed – butter garlic lemon wild mahi mahi, steamed lemon broccoli, salad and baked potatoes with butter and greek yogurt (seriously, put down the sour cream and use greek yogurt, it’s awesome!)

I’m not writing this to pat myself on the back. I’m writing it to show how simple it is to be kind and spread positivity. And it came back to me ten fold already as I feel better than normal this whole day.

Try it. Tell me what you think…

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12 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

As many of my readers know, I like to do a series around Christmas time in the spirit of helping others. This year, I thought I’d countdown the twelve days before Christmas by finding ways to give back.

From disastrous forces of nature to massive revelations of a sexual assault epidemic, this year has been a turbulent one for many, many people. And it’s reached everyone, from those on their thrones of power to the average citizen trying to make their way in the world. Overall, it’s been a rough year.

And while I am not shielded from pain and have known some myself this year, I also know I am more fortunate than many others. A day doesn’t go by without news of  atrocities in foreign countries happening to young girls or government figures trying to take away people’s freedoms by force. Sadly, there is an abundance of fights that need to be fought. An abundance of help needed.

And anyone can.

From a simple smile to someone having a rough day to donating millions to a relief fund, giving back can be done at any station in life.

For clarity though, I should tell you how I define “giving back.” I use it as an action noun. It is the act of one choosing to use their time, efforts and skills to help those in need as a way to reciprocate to the universe one’s gratitude for “this thing called life” (to quote Prince, may he RIP.)

For the first day of this countdown, the universe gave me an opportunity before I even got out of bed. After waking, I checked my phone like I normally do and saw a text from a friend who is going through a deep spiritual awakening and making major change in her life. She asked for some advice and guidance on writing a blog.

I absolutely want to help. Other writers have helped me along the way and I am thrilled to be able to give back as they did for me. I texted her some answers to her questions and agreed to read and critique her work and you know what? I’m looking forward to it!

I hope you come along for the ride with me over the next twelve days. Till tomorrow…

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