Category Archives: James Garfield for Sainthood

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! Good things, mostly. Well done, you.

Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!  Jolly Festivus!  Insert whatever is necessary here!

I tried to count up all the toys and coats and books and blankets sent to children through this year’s Jame Garfield Miracle and I lost track after a few hours so I suspect it’s much more but I estimate that over $75k in clothes and toys were sent to children this year by our amazing community.  That includes over $25,000 in donations to Project Night Night to help homeless children.  (From Project Night Night:  “We are floored and so, so grateful!”)  I can’t share them for privacy sake but I’ve received so many pictures of small, beaming faces surprised with unexpected things under the tree.  You really are full of magic.  Thank you.  Thank you to those who helped and those who asked for help and those who stopped by to send love and encouragement.  In the last 7 years we’ve given over $400,000 to make sure that kids had a happy holiday.  No sponsors.  No marketing.  Just people working together for the good of others.  That’s insane, y’all.  

(And a very special thank you to a young lady who was herself helped during the very first James Garfield Miracle and who this year was so thrilled to be able to pass on gifts to a child in need.  Your email made me cry but in such a good way.)

front

James Garfield and I love you.

*******

And now…time for the weekly wrap-up!

xmas

 

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Melt: massage for couples. It’s an instructional massage video that teaches how to give kick-ass massages with a simple, step-by-step video guide. It costs less than one professional massage and you’ll have it forever with unlimited access. You can watch the trailer here.  Christmas vouchers are on sale today so if you fucked up and gave your honey a terrible gift you can go now and buy a voucher right here and be like, “I was totally kidding about that machete I gave you for Christmas.  THIS IS MY REAL PRESENT.  I’m gonna give you a bad-ass massage.  PLEASE PUT DOWN THE MACHETE.”  Seriously.  Put down the machete.  Pick up some massage skills.  We all win.

UPDATED: The Seventh Annual James Garfield Miracle

PLEASE SEE UPDATES BELOW!

Today marks the SEVENTH (!) annual James Garfield Miracle.  Short story: I bought a very jolly but kinda f-ed up boar head (named James Garfield)  and Victor thought I was crazy so I sold some homemade Xmas cards to make up the $90 I paid for him but I made so much I decided to give the money back to parents struggling to buy a toy for their kid.

James Garfield and I love you.

James Garfield and I love you.

It went quickly but as soon as I ran out of cash a ton of other people stepped up and asked if they could send toys to strangers and it grew into an annual event.  Each year I think will be the last year but each year people who were helped in the past ask if we’ll do it again so they can give back.  For those who like something easier we also give to Project Night Night, an organization that gives a book, stuffed animal and security blanket to kids living in shelters, and also to Heifer because it’s nice to be able to donate the ass end of a water buffalo on the behalf of relatives that you don’t really like.  As always, there are no sponsors, no rules and no one gets anything out of it except the happiness of helping total strangers.

TRUTH.

TRUTH.

So here’s how it works:  If you are struggling this year and you don’t know how you are going to buy a present for your child (or children) then do this…make a wish-list on Amazon (SEE UPDATES BELOW) and leave a comment below (with the age of your child, a link to your wish list, and anything else you want to share).

 

Here’s the basic FAQ because we’ve done it enough to know the problems:

  • How do I post my wishlist so that my kid gets a present?

Log in to Amazon and under “Account & Lists” choose “Create a list”.

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Name your list something and choose “PUBLIC” and “Create List”:

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Find the thing you want to put on your list and then choose the list from the drop down:

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Now you have to make sure that you’ve added a shipping address to your new wishlist so go to it and choose “list settings”:

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Then go to the list and click “view details”:

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Here you have to create a new shipping address or you won’t get anything.  YOU HAVE TO DO THIS.  If you don’t then people will see your list but can’t mail it to you.  People can’t see your full address though (just your town) so it’s still private.  This is also where you can write a description of your kids and their ages if you want to add that.  After you make it public and add your address hit “save changes”:

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Then go to the comments here and put a link to your wishlist.  Here’s an example I made up: I’m struggling this year and have 2 young kids and 2 teenagers.  They like books and movies.  I live in America.  I also added an inexpensive coat and mittens for one my youngest  just in case you could help.  Here’s my link.

DONE!  (Adding where you live is good because it’s easier for Canadians to buy for Canadians, etc.  If you have Amazon in your country though you’re good to go.)

  • What should I choose for my wishlist?

Picking things that are listed as “prime” eligible is ideal because shipping is free for people with prime memberships.  Ideally try to limit your selections to less than $30 per kid so that we can help as many kids as we can.  Books and art supplies and movies that kids can share are all great suggestions.

Can I add a coat or warm pajamas for my kids?

It’s really just for toys but you can always ask if you really need them.

I went to buy something from a list but the list was empty.

That is actually awesome.  That means everything from their list was bought.  Whoop!

I went to buy something from a list but there wasn’t an address attached to it. 

Then delete what you have in you cart and don’t buy anything otherwise it will go to you or the next person you buy for.  That happens every year.  Leave a comment letting the person know that they need to add an address.

How do I know I’m using the right address?

When you’re looking at the wishlist it will say the name of the person.  When you check out select the same person’s name’s wishlist address or registry address.  If there isn’t one then they haven’t added their address so delete your cart and try the next person.

Are you checking to make sure people are real?

Sort of.  There are some things I do to check but go with your gut.  I do delete people if I know they aren’t real but most people won’t go to the trouble to fake an account for crayons and kid’s books so use your best judgement.

Can I thank the person who helped me?

You won’t know who they are, but you can totally say thanks in the comments.  You’ll know if something was bought because it will disappear from your list.

What if I don’t get what was sent to me?

It happens, but rarely.  Sometimes you’ll forget to put your address and your stuff goes to the person who bought it.  Or it’s at your neighbor’s house because you weren’t there to sign for it.  Or it was sold out and you’ll get it after the holiday.  It’s rare, but it can happen.

I can’t afford to buy something but I’d like to volunteer to make something or send a card to someone.

Okay.  Just put your email on your comment and they can connect with you.

I want to give 10% off a product I make or let them enter a drawing if they like my Facebook page and tweet a bunch of crap about it.

No.  Sorry.  This is not that.

Will you be my friend?

Yes.  Yes, I will.

PS. I was going to buy a water buffalo in your honor because I think “water buffalo” is fun to say but instead I’m sending a girl to school and I also donated $1,000 to Project Night Night in your name.   And now I’m going to fill as many wish lists as I can. The money I spend on this stuff comes directly from my affiliate links and your support in buying my books. so if you can’t afford to help just know that if you came here this year these gifts are from you too.  In the last 6 years we’ve given over $325,000 to help kids during the holidays.  That is insane, y’all.

LET’S DO THIS.

UPDATED, day 2: Wow, y’all.  I had earmarked $5k to give out to people needing a toy or two for a kid but so often when I clicked on a wishlist it was already filled completely.  Way to make it hard on me in the best possible way.  You are full of magic and I want to lick you all.  But I’m too tired so I’m going to just nuzzle you in my head.

A quick hint that might help if you’re looking to help people…ideally everyone would just have a toy or two and maybe a warm jacket on their list for each kid but some people just put a link to their long, running wish lists they keep all year, so to see if the person submitting the wishlist has already had items bought for their kids by others you can add this line to the end of their wishlist and it will show you what was already bought and when:

?reveal=purchased&view=null

Also, you will see some people getting quite a few toys or clothes for their kids because they submitted long lists.  Is it fair that some get more, when others ask for so little?  Not really.  Is it disheartening?  Also, not really.  Ideally everyone would get something but if our biggest issue is that some needy kids get a lot more than expected then I’d say that’s a fairly acceptable problem to have.  Also, historically day 3 is when a few scammers usually start to show up so be a bit cautious if you see people asking for things that aren’t for kids.  I try to take out the people that I can see are questionable but if you’re concerned at all you can always donate to Project Night Night above and make sure that kids in shelters get something for the holiday.   Either way, I am so incredibly lucky to be part of this community and you’ve reminded me that there is so much good in the world, and I think we all needed that after this year.  The response from those in need and those so happy to give has been incredible and I’ve cried more than twice.  Thank you for helping.  Thank you for asking.  Thank you for being you.

I love you more than strawberry cake.

Updated DAY 3:   I’m struggling to find anyone who had workable wishlist that didn’t have at least one thing filled on it.  In most cases each kid got a couple of toys or books, and I’m also seeing tiny coats and small, warm boots flying through the internets.  You done good, y’all.

A few clarifications…first off, I had quite a few people send me mortified emails because they had long wish lists and thought they were being ignored because their lists were so long they  didn’t realize that they were getting gifts until they started arriving.  I think next year if we do this we will make it simpler.  I’m still working on the details but I’m thinking something like, you have to create a  brand new wishlist for the Jame Garfield Miracle (not a running one used by family because those can be enormous and confusing) with a limit of $35 worth of toys and books per kid, and an option of adding under $100 in coats, shoes, socks or underwear if they are very needed.  That way it’s easier to fill, fairer, easier to track, and less likely to result in confusion, frustration or anything else for both givers and receivers.

By day 4 things start to get tricky so I HIGHLY suggest donating to Project Night Night if you want to help kids in need,  If you do want to give to strangers make sure to check if they’ve already been gifted (using the code above) to make sure you’re giving to those who haven’t already been helped.  I know there are always a few people who asked for a lot more than suggested and it can leave a sour taste in your mouth, but I can assure you that for every person that makes you raise a questioning eyebrow there are 100 other families that were so happy to get a single toy or a book for their child.  It’s just harder to see because those people typically post once and get their list filled immediately, and the ones who seem more questionable seem to post their lists 20 times.  I don’t think I’ve seen anyone though (even those who make you raise an eyebrow) who wasn’t asking for help in a bad situation that no-one would want to be in, and I love that we were able to help so many people and that so many people felt comfortable asking for a small bit of help.

Thanks, y’all.

Day 4:  Okay.  This year has been a big fat year of horrible bullshit for so many so it makes sense that this year we’ve had a few more problems than usual.  I don’t usually touch on drama stuff but I think I need to because of the confusion of the last day.  The James Garfield Miracle is about making sure that all children get at least one toy under the tree.  The ideal is that each kid in need gets $40 in toys or books, but we leave it open because some cases are unique and for when parents also request a coat or underwear or socks.  Every year there are some kids who get more and some who get less but usually they get $30-$100 worth of stuff and are very grateful.  For most of the people helped this year that is still the case.  There are always a few people who ask for thousands of dollars of stuff but usually they’re ignored because the givers mainly look for people who just want a few things to save the idea that santa exists.  This year we had more people than usual ask for pages of gifts and sometimes they kept adding to their lists when everything was bought.  Most people who did this were called out on it, and I understand why although I try not to judge because everyone is fighting their own battle.  Sadly, some people who received 4 or 5 gifts now feel bad for asking for help because they’ve seen the backlash.  Never feel bad for asking for help if it’s for your child.  That is not easy and takes guts.  Also, there is a huge difference between getting 4 gifts after asking twice and getting 60 gifts and continuing to ask for more.

I’m heartened that a few people have reached out to me to say that they were caught up in the relief and thrill of getting presents for their children so they kept asking for more but now feel bad that they were gifted pages and pages of gifts and have asked if they can send them to others or cancel them.  Honestly, it’s more expensive to ship most of these things so if you are one of the people who got dozens and dozens gifts and want to pass on the abundance, the very best thing you can do is to wrap up the things that you need to stay warm and to have a few toys under the tree for each of your kids and then look at all of the other gifts that were given to you and your family and (as a family) make a decision on whether to donate the excess to a homeless shelter, church, or women’s shelter before Christmas.  There are always some nearby and it’s easy to drop off (call first) and they always need toys and clothes.  Many kids in the women’s shelters were abused and had to leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs so they would so appreciate any small thing you give.  Also, it is a WONDERFUL feeling to give and a wonderful gift to your children to show them what it looks like to give to others.  You don’t have to.  I know the panic of being poor.  I know the fear that makes you cling to anything and the desperation that comes with it.  That’s the reason I started this in the first place.  But I also know that giving to those less fortunate can make you feel rich in ways you can’t imagine.  This and toys for tots are my favorite things we do each year.  It is ADDICTIVE.  As in life, this decision is entirely up to you.

I don’t know that we’ll do this again next year (I never know because I never know if I’ll have the money or health that year to do it) but if we do we’ll implement some changes to make things better for everyone.

Thank you to everyone.  To those who helped.  To those who asked for help.  To those who practiced kindness and empathy even when they were angry.  To those  who struggle.  To those who thrive.  I wish you all a happy holiday, wherever you are.

 

Hey. Do you need something?

Okay.  Next week we’re doing the  7th Annual James Garfield Miracle.  Every year I think it will be the last and every year the people who were helped in the past ask me if it’s going on again because they’re now back on their feet and they want a chance to give back and this year is no exception, so technically I blame you.  But in a good way.  (In case you’re new, the James Garfield Miracle is when we get together and help give toys, blankets, and books to homeless children or to children whose parents are seriously struggling during the holidays.  It’s done anonymously in this community without any sponsors and it is a great joy to watch.)  If you want to help someone, or if you’re unable to buy a toy for your kid this holiday then watch this blog next week and I’ll set it up with all the instructions then.  It is awesome and exhausting and THIS IS NOT THAT.

Today’s post is just a small way to say thank you to everyone here who has been so amazing and supportive.  Because of the sponsors on the sidebars we’re able to keep this blog going without losing money.  Because of the people who buy things using my affiliate links I’m able to give back that money during the James Garfield Miracle.  Because you’ve been so incredibly supportive with my writing I now have two #1 NYT bestsellers and can spend my time creating ridiculous things that somehow help others.  That’s pretty amazing and I am so incredibly lucky.

As a small ‘thank you’ I decided that it would be nice to give back in some way so I pulled out a stack of my books that I usually drop off at Little Free Libraries and I’m going to give them away to the first people who say that they really need one.  Maybe you haven’t been able to afford one of them yet, or maybe you know someone who needs one, or maybe you’re in a bad place and you just need a reminder that someone cares…whatever.  Just leave a comment (with an email address!) telling me if you want Let’s Pretend This Never Happened in hard cover, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened on CD, Furiously Happy in hardcover, or Furiously Happy on CD.  If YOU ARE HERE was finished I’d give it away too but we have a couple more months before it’s done.  I’ll email you for your mailing address so make sure you check your email today.

Additionally, I know there are a lot of people during the holiday seasons who feel alone so I thought maybe I would set up an open thread on my Facebook page if any of you want to become friends or exchange info to send cards or to find someone struggling with similar things to have someone to talk to.  I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but what the hell.  Click here if you want to find friends in the community.

And now, comments are open.  Let me know if you are in need of a book and be sure to specify which book and which format because it’s first-asked, first served.

Things to give away today. Dorothy Barker not included.

Things to give away today. Dorothy Barker not included.

 

UPDATED: Holy crap, that went fast.  I gave away the 35 copies I had and I’m going to check the closets to see if I have any more.  I think I have a box of Let’s Pretend copies somewhere if I can find them.  I left comments on all the comments that I could fill and I’ve already been told that some people are contacting others to pass on their copy or buy one for others.  I love you people so hard.  If I find more books and email you but someone else has bought it for you since I’ve written this then just let me know and I’ll move on to the next person.  Thank you for being you.

PS. I’m not sure how safe it is to have your email address in a comment so I’ll probably go back and delete them in a day or two so they don’t get used for spam or something.  Also, if you want to buy someone a copy but don’t want to ask for their physical address you can just confirm that the email works and then send them an electronic gift card.  I trust everyone in this community but I’m just throwing it out there just in case.

PS. Thank you.

 

Season’s Greetings, you magnificent bastards.

It’s Christmas!  Which is full of awesomeness and glitter and also a lot of conflicting emotions and sometimes depression, which seems even worse than normal because it’s a day when you’re supposed to be happy.  But that’s okay because it’s just a day, y’all, and I’m giving you full permission to be joyful, or nostalgic, or sad, or to avoid people who make you feel like shit, or to be happy in spite of the fact that the holidays are full of weirdness.  I am glad that you are in the world and I’m toasting you right now from my own quiet house.  It’s a time to be thankful for the things that are going right in the universe and to lock yourself in the bathroom with a small flask of schnapps when things get overwhelming.  It’s a time to dance in your living room to songs that make you happy, or watch zombie movies and eat Chinese food all day.  It’s whatever it needs to be for you.

It’s also a good time to remind ourselves of the awesomeness in the world and I’m doing that starting with a quick recap of the 6th Annual James Garfield Miracle.

jamesgarfieldholiday

(That’s James Garfield, above, in his festive finery.)

This year (in just a little over a week) we collectively gave over $85k to help children.  That includes giving presents to kids who might not otherwise get them, donating to Heifer International, and giving over $30k to Project Night Night, who will use our donation to put a bag with a stuffed animal, security blanket and a book into the hands of 1,200 homeless children.  In the six years we’ve been doing this some of the kids who were helped that first year are now old enough to help others, which makes me feel very proud, happy and also more than a little old.  In the last 6 years more than a quarter of a million dollars has been given by this community to help others.  No sponsors.  No middle-men.  No special recognition or fancy graphics or pleas for help.  Just people directly helping people because it made them happy.

What the shit, y’all?  That’s amazing.  My email has been full of awesomeness (which is a wonderful gift to me because I’ve been fighting off a bit of depression myself) but I thought I’d share this one because it’s one of my favorites:

“I cried every night for a week when I realized that an unexpected bill had decimated the plans I’d made to get my kids presents this year.  I told my kids that there wouldn’t be much for Christmas this year but that our Christmas present was that we had a roof over our heads and that we were together.  They were as understanding as kids could be but I was heartbroken and felt like a failure.  I left a comment on your blog hoping that I could get a warm coat for at least one of them and within a day so many people gave help.  Packages started arriving this week and it made me cry again.  Happy tears. When my youngest  asked why I was crying I told her that I’d gotten a Christmas miracle.  There are two new coats under the tree for my little girls, plus three toys and two books that I can’t wait to read to them.  I was able to thank some people but some of the packages didn’t come with any notes saying who the presents were from so I’m sending you this email so you can maybe pass it on and tell whoever saved Christmas for my girls that they gave me a gift so much bigger than they probably know.  Thank you for this grace, in helping me keep them safe and happy and for reminding me that people care.  Next year when I’m back on my feet I can’t wait to pay it forward.  I will never forget this.”

Ditto.

Thank you, everyone, for another year of craziness and kindness.  You are the best kind of people and I’m lucky to have you in my life.

PS. A special Merry Christmas to my parents, sister, grandparents and all my other family members that I won’t see this Christmas.  I love you guys more than cheese.  We’re with you in spirit.

UPDATED: The Sixth Annual James Garfield Miracle

Did you know it’s December?  Because it is.  And I’m freaking out because where did this year go and what am I doing now that book tour is finally over?  Answer: Feeling a little lost.  Which is the perfect reason to do something awesome and also why we are going to do the 6TH ANNUAL JAMES GARFIELD MIRACLE.

What is the James Garfield Miracle?  It’s a weird thing we’ve done here each year in an effort to get a ferociously jolly taxidermied boar’s head (named James Garfield) recognized as an actual saint.  Every year I say it’ll probably be the last and every year the people who were helped the previous year email me to ask if they can be donors this year to give back what was given to them and then my heart grows eight sizes and doesn’t fit in any of my sweaters and I decide to do it again.  This year is no exception so I’m blaming you for this, wonderful-people-who-remind-me-that-this-has-become-the-truest-way-get-my-cranky-ass-into-the-holiday-spirit.

James Garfield and I love you.

James Garfield and I love you.

So this is how we do it.  If you want to help those who are struggling you can do it in a number of ways, but these are my favorite.  You can donate online to Project Night Night, which is crazy easy.  For $25 they provide a homeless child with a bag containing a blanket, book, and stuffed animal.  It is awesome.  Or you can donate to Heifer, who helps families around the world.  Or you can come here and help anyone in the online community who is having a hard time getting toys for their kids for the holidays.  It’s awesome to get help but honestly it’s even more awesome to help others, so if you need help with a few things for your kids please ask because we have all been there, y’all.  Here’s how it works:

If you need help:  Go to Amazon and create a new wish list.  Name it whatever you want.  Make it “public”.  Go to “view details” and it’ll let you adjust list settings.  This is where you have to add a shipping address for that list or else no one can send you anything.  It’s also where you can add details on the ages, gender and number of kids need a special santa this year.  Find the stuff you want and then add it to your wish list. Here’s my sample list so you can see what it looks like.  Put a link to your wish list in the comments.  No need to use your name or give any personal info but it’s helpful if you just share the ages of the kids.  Make sure you pick stuff that is in stock and it helps if it’s listed as eligible for Prime because shipping is free for a lot of us on Prime stuff.  Good examples of what to put on the list: artscrafts, books, stuffed animals, warm coats, mittens.  Bad stuff to put on the list:  video cameras, live tigers, bags of lice.  I have to approve the comments so if yours doesn’t show up for a bit that’s just because I’m probably busy eating or sleeping.  It’ll show up eventually.  (Also, if you aren’t in America please add that in your comment so that donors in your country can find you.)

If you want to help:  Go to the comment section and click on a wish list.  Buy stuff on the list.  When it asks for the shipping address just choose the person’s name.  It’ll go to that person.  Easy as pie.  (MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE THE PERSONS ADDRESS OR IT MAY DEFAULT TO YOUR ADDRESS.  If they don’t have an address it means they haven’t added one yet and need to go in and add it.)  I have a few things built-in to make sure people aren’t gaming the system, but honestly people don’t really want to game the system over children’s scarves and hot wheels so it’s not much of a worry.  It is the best present ever because it is literally a kindness to a stranger and for a lot of us it’s like going back in time and buying things for ourselves when we were poor kids or struggling parents.  If you want to leave a comment for the person you bought for telling them what you sent and when it’ll be delivered that’s always lovely but not a requirement.

My mind is still mushy from 3 months of book tour so I’m probably missing something important here.  Oh…hang on…I remembered…

Thank you.

Thank you for sharing with others.  Thank you for allowing others to share with you. (The second one is the hardest so double thanks for that.)  And thank you for all of your support this year.  It’s because of your tremendous support this year (for my blog and book) that’s given me the opportunity to be a donor again this year, so even if you can’t help someone else this year know that if you stopped by the blog, or recommended Furiously Happy, or just left a kind word that helped me through a sometimes tough year you are a part of this small miracle.  By the way, I don’t keep great tabs on this stuff and it’s done entirely without sponsors but in the past 5 years we’ve given over a quarter of a million dollars to help children around the world and that’s pretty damn incredible.

As a special thank you to you I just sent Project Night Night packages for 40 children, and donated a live llama and some bees in your honor.  (The llama and bees are for struggling families through Heifer International, not for homeless kids.  Live bees would be a terrible present for kids.  I’m not sure why I’m having to clarify this.)

Comments will stay open until things slow down, or until we all run out of money.  I’ve got several thousand dollars to give that comes directly from the support that you’ve given me this year so I’ll be helping out as long as the money lasts.  I’ll also be randomly picking people to send signed audiobooks to because I just got a big box of them and I hate the sound of my voice, so if you get an email from me, that’s why.  Forgive the typos.  I’m still not totally recovered from travel.

Love.

UPDATED – DAY 2:  It has been a very long and very amazing two days. I’ve seen hundreds of families so happy to be helped, and hundreds of others even happier to be able to help. I’ve gone to buy special requests and found that they were already bought by others who beat me to it. I’ve seen people hurting, and others reach out to remind them how important they are.

I cried a little from joy and also a little from darkness, and then I took a deep breath and said, “That was good.” And it was.

Comments will still be left open and there will be more people who need help and more who will offer. And it never stops, which is something that I find both wonderfully exhilarating and terribly draining and a little symbolic of everything that makes up the world. Thank you for reminding me of the kindness of people. Thank you for letting me see into the background of these small miracles, because the stories you read here are amazing, but the stories I see behind the scenes are even more moving. I don’t know how much was donated to Project Night Night or Heifer yet but I checked the purchases on the first page of comments (before my head got melty from too much math) and I counted $30,000 in donations from strangers to send small comforts to children around the world. I don’t have the energy to add up all the other pages still filled with people giving out help but I know that a lot of people were given the gift of a happy holiday and a lot of people were given the gift of buying presents for a family they got to adopt. And it was amazing.

And now I’ll slip quietly back into the shadows where I feel much more comfortable. Yay for comfort. Yay for miracles. Yay for the fact that all the Doctor Who Christmas specials are streaming on Hulu this week. We win, you guys. And that’s how we take back a little bit of the light. Thanks for letting me see it.

James Garfield for President, y’all.

UPDATED: DAY 3

Hello. It’s me. It’s the end of day 3 and this is the day when things start to get overwhelming. This is when the excited and relieved comments start to come in from people receiving the small things they asked for. It’s when strange little miracles happen. It’s also when things get confusing and you realize that, just as in life, some get more than others and some slip through the cracks. It’s when I finish up my own final purchases ($7k in tiny increments going to children around the world – which comes directly from your support of me through the year so it is a present from you technically). It’s when I tend to slip away a bit because it’s also when a few people will try to mess with the system, and it only takes one or two to make you disheartened in spite of the thousands of others that are helped. I’ve had a few people contact me with concerns that a person might not be trustworthy or that someone is exaggerating or even pretending to be two people to get more gifts, and that will happen. This is the world, after all, and none of us are perfect. But I remind myself of several things. 1) It would be a terrible thing to be so desperate as to take something that would have gone to a child on Christmas or Hanukkah, and if that person is so desperate then they need our care and pity, and forgiving them and helping them is a true act of holiday spirit and generosity. (And that they’ll probably get stabbed with a fork at some time because karma does that.)  2) That regardless of the honesty of the person asking for help, most of the requests are for children’s toys and children deserve to have presents even when the people who love them go about it in not-entirely honest ways. 3) That people giving are kind, but they are also smart, and mostly the gifts given are toys and children’s books and necessities of life that will help a family in need, because most people helping can tell by the list who legitimately needs a small helping hand to make a child smile.

As always, amazing things happened here and so many people were helped in lovely ways and they helped others with their stories. You all inspired me and I thank you so much for this.

I’m going to step out now and stop doing so many checks on people, so that means there is a giant “BUYER BEWARE” after this if you decide you want to look in the comments and help. It’s slowing down and most people have been helped and I’d probably close comments but I sort of like them open because it’s so nice to see people leave comments of happiness as packages arrive.  If I were you and I just found this post and I was looking to help I’d stick with helping people who want a single small toy or children’s book, but it is totally up to you and I know there are a lot of amazing people who are in need of help and a lot of amazing people who specifically are looking to support people who remind them of people they’ve lost. And that’s lovely and the way it should be. Most people are wonderful and in need of help or in need of someone to help and that’s a very happy coincidence.  Also, Project Night Night is a PERFECT way to help a child in desperate need and I cannot recommend it enough.

I think next year if we do this again maybe we’ll just stick with books? No one can say no to a good book and anyone who’d pretend to be two people to get more books for their kid is automatically forgiven in my mind because BOOKS. Remind me of that next year when December rolls around?

Love, love and more love.

PS. If you want to see what the person asking for help has already been sent you can just add this to the end of their wish list. /ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?reveal=purchased

PPS.  Thank you.  For everything.  Going to pass out now.

UPDATED: DAY FOUR

And on the fourth day there was clarity.  And rest.  And possibly tuberculosis.  Long story.  But to make it short, happy comments from people receiving presents are coming in, and I’m getting sweet pictures of adorable smiling children who are already holding wrapped gifts (which I’m not sharing here because privacy is good thing) and it’s made me feel (for lack of a better term) furiously happy.  This is winding to a close but remember that Project Night Night goes all year long helping children.  Thank you for being awesome and thank you for the love you’ve shared with others.  At last count over $60k was given to help children have a good holiday and I’m sure I’m underestimating that because I stopped counting halfway through after math gave me a headache.  And now I’m off to get tested for TB.  Again.  Long story.  I wish you all a merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and Good Kwanzaa and Jolly Flying Spaghetti Monster Day or whatever else you might celebrate.  High-five, you bad-asses.

 

UPDATED:  DAY…what day is this?

Hey guys. Unfortunately a scammer has found us as of this morning. (I lied about not checking anymore. Sorry. I’m devious that way.). I’m not approving their list so it won’t be seen but now that they know how I found them they could avoid that little trap so right now I’m going to stop publishing any more lists. It’s about time to wrap it up anyway. You can still leave comments and thank yous and all that though. And thank you to everyone!

Also, if you have a fake list you should take down anything on your wish list right now. I don’t want to have to share your information and it’s shockingly easy for me to expose you and I’m sure it would be awfully embarrassing to be identified as someone who would lie for such a terrible reason.  (Fake list = pretending to be more than one person, a list asking for help for made up people.)  There were a few that were iffy before, and some that looked iffy but turned out totally legit, but this was the first that I could definitively prove was a lie so I’m shutting down all further lists as of now.

Sorry to be a downer, guys. Just want to keep this a safe place and I think we’ve mostly done that. Even with the problems that arose this was still worth it for the happy people who were helped.

Also, just as a final housekeeping thing, I’ve gotten a couple of “undeliverable” messages from Amazon because either the shipping address the person gave on their wish list was wrong or the person deleted their info.  I can’t trace who the gifts were supposed to go to because Amazon just says “gifting address hidden for privacy”.  If that happens then any money refunded to me will go to Project Night Night and any gifts forwarded to me (I’m not sure how Amazon handles that yet) will be given to Toys for Tots so that no matter what someone is helped.

Also, I’m getting some messages that are saying “Couldn’t leave your package as there was no safe place to leave it and will try again tomorrow” which is good in a way because I know last year several people never got their gifts because they had their packages stolen off porches but also not good because you may not know that your mail person is having problems delivering your package.  In the past people have left notes to the mailman on the door telling him/her to leave packages in a more hidden location (behind bushes, etc) so that’s an option.  Just wanted to let you all know because inevitably a few things don’t arrive, get lost, etc., and that’s just going to happen, but the more we can head off those issues the better.  🙂

UPDATED: DAY…where even am I?

I wasn’t going to update again but I need to because of the email this morning I got from the lovely people at Project Night Night:

“Hugs. Hugs. Hugs. Wanted to give you an update that we have received just over $20,500 since Monday which puts Night Night packages into the arms of 823 children. This is incredible and we are so grateful.”

Me too.  I love y’all.

You are the best Godzilla ever.

Hello!

This is a disjointed post as my is family here for an early Christmas since my dad will be manning his taxidermy shop on actual Christmas.  Because nothing says “Happy birthday, Jesus!” like being elbow-deep in a warm deer.

I just want to say such an enormous thank you to everyone who asked for or offered help this week on our 5th Annual James Garfield Miracle Post.  I’ve lost track but my best estimate is that over $75k has already been donated this week to helping kids have at least one Christmas/Hanukkah present, or giving a security blanket, toy and book to a homeless child, or giving a gift through Heifer to help better the world.   Project Night Night and Heifer have both reached out to say that they are seeing a ton of donations come from here, and the comments of people sending toys and receiving them have given me back my Christmas spirit.

My friend , Joe Baden, surprised me with an amazing illustration he made for me this week:

bloggess joe badon

And it’s perfect because at first I thought it was me fighting Godzilla, but then I looked closer and realized it was more like Godzilla and I are on the same team and he’s totally got my back.   As if I was like, “LET’S DO THIS SHIT.  LET’S SAVE CHRISTMAS AND TURN ALL GUNS INTO CHOCOLATE AND MAKE PAJAMAS FOR COLD SLOTHS!”  And Godzilla was all, “Have you been drinking again?  You’re in your pajamas and you’re armed with a blow-dryer.  And it’s not even plugged in.  Jesus, lady.  JUST LET ME HELP YOU.”

That Godzilla is you.

If you’re part of the community.  If you helped.  If sent a word of kindness.  If you donated, or plan to donate in the future.  (Heifer and Project Night Night always need help.)  If you were humble enough to ask for help, or selfless enough to pass on help to others once your needs were met.  No matter what part you played, you are my Godzilla.

Thank you for being my Godzilla.

PS. If you want to leave comments of thanks you can do that here, but if you’re asking for help, or including a link for help please just leave those comments on the original post so we don’t end up with confusion, okay?

PPS.  For those still struggling to make the holiday special for their children, or those who weren’t able to get their present delivered before Christmas here are a few ideas:

Go on youtube and create an entire playlist for them of songs that remind you of them, or that you know they’d love to hear. I made a playlist for Hailey and she listens to it over and over. It’s like the free mixtape of the future.

Get a pinterest account (it’s free), search it for the cool stuff they love, and pin those things to a board you made just for them. Motivational words, art they’d like, meme’s they enjoy, movies they like. I have one for Hailey and she loves to check it out because it’s all about the Star Wars and Night Vale and Doctor Who and funny animals, and it reminds her that I’m thinking of her.  This is a mirror image of it if you want to see how it works.  I keep the real one marked “private” so I don’t have to worry about her seeing comments 10 year olds shouldn’t read.

Go to the library and get a GREAT book you loved at that age. Then turn off everything but a single lamp and read aloud. Even now I love listening to my mom read.

Do art together. Maybe it’s coloring. Maybe it’s doodling. Maybe it’s getting out your phone or camera to take funny photos.

And remember that, no matter what, if your children have your love they are already ahead of the game.

 ******************

And now, the weekly wrap-up of awesomeness:

madebyroundtablecompanies 2

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-I-didn’t-come-up-with-but-wish-I-did-because-it’s-awesome:

Shit you should buy or steal because it’s awesome:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by the creators of THE KEGEL BEAR, an adorable children’s book about vaginal exercise.  That sounds weird, but it’s actually quite genius, as outlined in the video and also makes a fabulous baby shower gift.   No bears or vaginas were harmed in the making of this product.  

UPDATED: If you need help, or if you want to help…

UPDATE! I’ve lost track of where we are but we’d Donated over $10,000 of toys in the first 24 hours & it’s been snowballing since then. My blog only shows 700 comments per page before making you click “newer comments” so here’s a sHortcut: click here for comments 700-1400, here for comments 1400-2100, here for comments 2100-2800, and here for comments after 2800.

Remember in 2010 when I gave out gift cards in the name of James Garfield (the taxidermied boar) to the first twenty people who told me they didn’t know how they were going to afford toys for their kids this year?  And it was awesome until  it became very apparent that there were more people who needed help, but then you guys came to the rescue and suddenly there were $40,000+ worth of donations from strangers to strangers?  That was awesome.  And exhausting.

Then in 2011 we worked together to sponsor Project Night Night Bags (a bag with a security blanket, a book and a stuffed animal) to 750 homeless children.

In 2012 we helped get Project Night Night Bags to 1,000 children who were homeless, or were displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

Last year we donated tens of thousands of dollars of bees, oxen, and llamas around the world, and again supported Project Night Night.

This year I say we do it all.  It’s been a good year for some of us.  A bad year for others.  Give if you really can.  Take if you really need.

You can click here if you want to donate $25 to sponsor a Project Night Night bag for a homeless child.  Or click here to help end world hunger and poverty by buying the ass end of a pig as an honorarium for someone you don’t like.  Because who is going to complain about getting a helpful pig ass in their honor for Christmas?  No one worth going to the mall for, probably.

Or if you are struggling to buy a single present for your child then do this…make a wish-list on Amazon (SEE UPDATES BELOW) and leave a comment below (with the age of your child, a link to your wish list, and anything else you want to share).  I’ve made money this year in affiliate ads because you guys have supported me here, so I’m giving back to help those who need support this year to get by.  So that means that – even if you don’t have the money to donate this year – if you supported this page in any way, then the donations from me are also from you.  Literally.

A few words of warning…I only have a limited amount of money so I can only help a limited amount of people.  If you choose to share your wish-list then gift-givers will be able to see your name and city, but your actual shipping address is kept confidential with Amazon.   Also, if you choose to be a gift-giver and pay for something on someone’s wish-list please know that I can’t verify anyone here so you have to go with your gut.

I’m in the middle of family visits, deadlines, and book edits but I’ll try to keep the comments updated as much as I can.

PS.  I just bought a live sheep and a bunch of Project Night Night bags in your honor.  Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/GoodGravyGiving.  Thank you for letting me be part of such an amazing community.  You have no idea the difference you make.

PPS.  If you’re looking for something wonderful and inexpensive for your child I cannot over-recommend books.  Books were some of my best friends and still are, and they can take you miles away.  If you need suggestions, GoodReads has a great list of 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime.  Some of those books are like coming home again, and all are available for free at your local library.

PPPS.  It seems only fitting to end this with the taxidermied boar who inadvertently started this whole ridiculous thing.

James Garfield and I love you.

James Garfield and I love you.

UPDATED:  I’ve tried to buy several things on several wish lists but keep getting a  message telling me that there isn’t a verified address to send the presents to, so I’m just going to assume that I’m an idiot and instead I’m sending Amazon gift cards to the email addresses as noted in the comments.  Maybe someone smarter than me can tell me what I’m doing wrong.  Also, if you want to leave an email address in your comment you can but I won’t share it unless you actually type it into the comment box.

UPDATED X 2: Make sure you update your amazon profile to have a confirmed shipping address set up for your account.  See the comments for pointers.  So far almost everyone doesn’t so people aren’t able to ship to you.  Giant thanks to those who want to send me money so I can pass it on, but so much would be eaten in fees and taxes so it’s better for you to donate directly.  I’m sending gift cards for now but I suspect people will fix their profiles soon to make it easier.  And thank you for such an amazing response.  I love you guys.

UPDATED X 3: GOT IT!  Okay, the reason why we’re unable to ship to lots of you is because Amazon makes you select a shipping address for your wish list in a really complicated way.   I made a graphic to show how to do it but it’s 1:30am so forgive my typos…

shipping

December 26th update: I’ve lost track but you guys have donated well over $75k to helping struggling families during the holidays, including giving over $32k Night Night bags to homeless children, and donating to end world hunger and poverty.  I don’t even have the words, y’all.

Accidentally doing good things.

You know how every year we do some sort of fundraiser for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa in hopes of getting my taxidermied boar head canonized by the Pope?  Well, I was just thinking that now that we have a new, slightly-less-creepy Pope, James Garfield might finally have a chance at sainthood.  But then I started looking at Hanukkah and turns out it ends day after tomorrow.  I yelled at several Jewish friends for not letting me know this earlier and they apologized, saying “Um…we’re busy with Hanukkah, bitch.  Maybe get a fucking calendar.”  And one of them said something in Yiddish that I think translates to “YOU SHOULD LAUGH WITH LIZARDS“, which is an actual real insult and makes me want to take Yiddish classes.

Regardless, if you’ve been here long enough you probably know all about (or were a part of) The Many Miracle(s) of James Garfield.  The first came in 2010 when we all accidentally came together to raise over $42k to help get presents for kids who would not have otherwise gotten any.  It was awesome, and the next year tons of people who were helped in the past asked if we could do it again because now they were back on their feet and wanted to pass on the gift they’d received, but I couldn’t do it because I was so exhausted from running it that I got really sick.  Sorry.  I’m too shitty to be successfully philanthropic.  So instead, in 2011 we decided to help Project Night Nighta program that donates over 25,000 free packages to homeless children (containing  a new security blanket, a book, a stuffed animal and a tote bag) every year.  With our help they were able to donate the 750 packages they needed to hit all of the kids on their December list.  And in 2012 we donated a shitload of oxen to India (which seems weird, but awesome) and helped Project Night Night hit their goal of getting packages to 1,427 children affected by Hurricanes.

This year we’re going to switch it up and give 1,427 oxen to small children.  Or maybe we’ll just do what we did last year again. Because homeless kids being trampled by oxen seems slightly less festive.

It’s crazy simple to donate.  An entire package for Project Night Night only costs $20.  Plus, you can donate packages as presents in the name of all the people that you don’t want to send real gifts too.  Or you can donate bees in the name of people you don’t like.  For real.  It’s probably the worst present ever.  “For Christmas I bought you a big bag of angry bees.  Happy holidays, asshole.”  Except the bees go to needy people who’ll actual use them for pollination and honey and stuff.  But you could probably put one live bee in the “I donated in your name” envelope if you wanted to.  Or just put poison on the card.  Whatever.  I’m not here to judge you.

Want to donate?  Of course you do.  Just click here and you can donate directly to Project Night Night or here to donate to Heifer.  I’m starting it off by donating a llama in your name.  Yes, you.  I also bought 20 Project Night Night bags in your name in case you can’t afford to donate this year.

PS.  Don’t sweat it if you can’t afford to donate this year.  You can always share the Project Night Night page online or with friends to help spread the word.  Every little bit counts.

PPS.  I’m ccing the Pope on this one.  I’m pretty sure he needs to know about this shit.

James Garfield cannot tell a lie. He's like George Washington, but with his original teeth.

Happy holidays, you guys.  Thank you for being awesome.  You are worth ALL the llamas.

PPPS.  I have a ton of James Garfield holiday cards in my desk.  I’ll pick a bunch of people to randomly send them to in the comments.  Just leave a comment letting me know something nice you’re doing for someone else, if you can.

PPPPS.  Just a small update:  The Project Night Night folks emailed to tell me they received over $12,700 in donations in just the first day this post was up and donations are still flowing in.  They wanted to say thank you and so do I.  I don’t say it enough…I so adore you people.  Thank you for letting me be part of this amazing community.

PPPPPS. Just got an email from the very surprised Heifer people, who said to say thanks and that “the spike in numbers from your website was really impressive to the tune of more than 1K visitors and over $4K worth of bees!”  BEST ANGRY BEE CHRISTMAS EVER!

UPDATED: James Garfield for Sainthood

SEE UPDATE BELOW

Victor:  I bought Hailey one of those shelf-elves for Christmas.

me:  Yeah, I saw that.

Victor:  And now it’s gone.

me:  Yep.

Victor:  I can only assume you’ve done something exceedingly inappropriate with it.

me:  Don’t be ridiculous.  That’s what the cats are for.

Victor:  Then where is it?

me:  On my shelf.  BEING AWESOME.

No hamsters died for this picture. It was already dead of natural causes. Promise.

 

And speaking of the holidays, if you’ve been here long enough you probably know about the Miracle(s) of James Garfield.  One came in 2010 when we all accidentally came together to raise over $42k to help get presents for kids who would not have otherwise gotten any.  It was awesome, and the next year tons of people who were helped in the past asked if we could do it again because now they were back on their feet and wanted to pass on the gift they’d received, but I couldn’t do it because I was so exhausted from running it that I got really sick.  Sorry.  I suck.  So instead in 2011 we decided to help Project Night Night, which is a program that donates over 25,000 free packages to homeless children (containing  a new security blanket, a book, a stuffed animal and a tote bag).  With our help they were able to donate the 750 packages they needed to hit all of this kids on their list for last December.

This year, Project Night Night just sent 1,000 Project Night Night packages to children affected by superstorm Sandy and they need to get another 1,000 to finish the list of homeless children who still need help.  It’s crazy simple to donate.  An entire package only costs $20.  Plus, you can donate packages as presents in the name of your crazy uncle who already has everything, or your insane aunt who was always kind of a bitch to you when you were a kid.  EVERYONE WINS.

Want to donate?  Of course you do.  Just click here and you can donate directly.  I’m starting it off by donating the first 25 bags in honor of you (the internets) for being so incredibly supportive this year.

PS.  Don’t sweat it if you can’t afford to donate this year.  You can always share the Project Night Night page online or with friends to help spread the word.  Every little bit counts.

PPS.  If we actually raise the 1000 bags needed this will be James Garfield‘s 3rd documented miracle and we can then seriously start applying for Sainthood from the Pope.  It’s going to be awesome and/or very offensively ridiculous.

PPPS.  I also bought you a water buffalo.  I hope it’s the right size because I did not keep the receipt.

I'm glad they specify that it's a "full" water buffalo, because there's nothing worse than getting an empty water buffalo (which I assume would be like a sleeping bag with hooves).

Updated 12/17/12:  I just talked to Project Night Night and we’ve raised 826 bags for children in need of comfort.  174 more to go. We can do this.  It’s $20 to fund an entire bag and you can donate right here.

 

UPDATED: Weekly wrap up in the middle of the week

It’s not the end of the week but it feels like it is because Christmas fucks up my biorhythms and so every day feels like a Friday with no weekend in sight.  That’s why today I’m going to do a Sunday wrap-up for no reason whatsoever.

First, a few updates…Remember a few weeks ago when we all got together and tried to save Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and by donating 750 night-night bags for homeless children?

Well guess what?  WE FAILED.

But just barely.

But that means there are only 27 more packages to go.  And this is when I would say “Let’s have a bake-sale and raise that money, y’all!” but I’m too tired to make rice krispie treats so instead I just paid for the last 27 myself.  Done.  High-five, you guys.  Best motherfucking holiday drive ever.  (PS.  I paid for those last 27 out of the proceeds of my online shop (which is funded by you) so technically you paid for them.  Because you’re awesome.)

UPDATED:  

I just got an email from the founder of the Night Night Foundation and I wanted to share it with you guys:

“I’m not sure that I can really convey how much help you have given us this holiday.  Truly.  We had always heard about ‘the power of social networking’ but it never seemed to really work in the nonprofit sphere — until you stepped in of course.  You and your readers are really the most generous folks.  We have been so impressed by the swift action and by the kind words that we keep hearing from them.  Everyone is so sweet to let us know that they read about it on your blog.  We are beyond grateful.  I wish you could know how thankful we are this holiday season.”

They aren’t the only ones who are thankful.  I’m so lucky to be a part of something magical each year and none of this would happen without you.  Thank you for letting me be part of this.  Seriously.  Thank you. 

**********

In non-related news, it’s time for the weekly wrap-up.  Let’s get started, shall we?

What you missed on Ill-Advised:

What you missed on the Houston Chronicle:

What you missed in my shop (tentatively called “Eight pounds of uncut cocaine” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

What you missed on the internets:

This week on shit-I-didn’t-come-up-with-but-wish-I-did-because-it’s-kind-of-awesome:

This week’s wrap-up sponsored by me.  Mostly because this isn’t a real weekly wrap-up.  But a lot of people told me that they’d bought my book as a present for friends and family and then realized that it doesn’t actually come out until April, so then they asked if I could send them something personal that they could print out to wrap up.  I said I would and then promptly forgot about it.  So I’m doing it here.  If you bought one of my books for someone else just print this out and put it in an envelope.  Also it makes the perfect gift for people to buy when they’re too lazy to go to the mall.  YOU’RE WELCOME.